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March 6, 2013
VIDEO: Dawn Staley
SEC tournament bracket
SEC WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT
Today-Sunday * The Arena at Gwinnett Center * Duluth, Ga.
Game 1 -- (12) Mississippi State vs. (13) Alabama, 6 p.m. (FSS)
*Note: Due to Ole Miss' self-imposed postseason ban, the No. 11 seed receives a bye to Thursday
Game 2 -- (8) Arkansas vs. (9) Florida, noon (SPSO)
Game 3 -- (5) South Carolina vs. Game 1 winner, 2:30 p.m. (SPSO)
Game 4 -- (7) Vanderbilt vs. (10) Missouri, 6 p.m. (SPSO)
Game 5 -- (6) LSU vs. (11) Auburn, 8:30 p.m. (SPSO)
Game 6 -- Game 2 winner vs. (1) Tennessee, noon (SPSO)
Game 7 -- Game 3 winner vs. (4) Texas A&M, 2:30 p.m. (SPSO)
Game 8 -- Game 4 winner vs. (2) Kentucky, 6 p.m. (FSS)
Game 9 -- Game 5 winner vs. (3) Georgia, 8:30 p.m. (FSS)
Game 10 -- Game 7 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 4 p.m. (ESPNU)
Game 11 -- Game 9 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
Championship -- Game 11 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
What everybody heard on Sunday was exactly what it sounded like - several cries of pain emanating from South Carolina's locker room.
Nobody was hurting anyone else. They were all hurting themselves, with each delivering a large swift kick to their own rear end.
"After our seniors went out with a bang, beating Florida here in Colonial Life Arena, then you hear about the Texas A&M score, you think," coach Dawn Staley said. "We've always had one or two games like that where we've shot ourselves in the foot. I had to use our 24-hour rule."
Over the final week of the season, the No. 17 Gamecocks knew they were up against a wall when it came to finishing in the top four of the SEC, and thus earning a two-round bye in the SEC tournament. They were behind in tiebreakers to the other top seeds, and they needed major help to even be in the discussion.
Most figured it was a lost cause. All they could do was win their final two games and see where they stood. If they didn't get there, hey, they had tried their best.
But then Texas A&M lost to Tennessee, and lost its third straight game later that week to LSU. The Gamecocks would have finished one game ahead of the Aggies, in that No. 4 spot - except they lost to Missouri.
That game cost them the No. 4 spot and a second-round bye, and they found out about it after they blew Florida's doors off in the second half of the regular-season finale. That's when the Texas A&M score became final, and USC looked at the standings.
What else was there to do but leave a sneaker imprint?
Staley's 24-hour rule - one day to either celebrate a win or forget about a loss - was sorely tested. That Missouri game gets won, and USC is waiting until Thursday to bus to Duluth, Ga., and see who it was going to play. The Gamecocks would have only needed to win three games in three days to win their first SEC tournament title.
Instead, they're back in the familiar perch of having to win four in four. They're going to the NCAA tournament, and they get the small advantage of playing their first opponent (the winner of tonight's Alabama-Mississippi State game) after that opponent had to already play a game.
But man, did it sting. There might have been a few more minutes past that 24-hour curtain that had to be used.
"There's no do-overs," sophomore forward Aleighsa Welch said, describing the team's tournament mentality, which is now in place. "You can't really afford to come out and play one half of basketball. It's win or go home. We come out and don't perform the way we perform we're packing up and leaving."
The Gamecocks will start their journey on Thursday and with a win there, will get a rematch with Texas A&M (and Kelsey Bone) on Friday. USC advanced to the tournament semifinals for the first time in its history last season, and is hoping to do that mark two better.
"I think overall, we want to win the tournament," Staley said. "Let's set the goal of winning the tournament. The core of our players have been a part of the SEC tournament, all of our players have been state champions or part of a tournament where you either win or go home. We have to look at it like that."
South Carolina NEWS