David Cloninger

CHAMPS: USC clinches share of SEC title

She’s been waiting six years to celebrate.

“Ten wins, and two in the SEC,” coach Dawn Staley said after Sunday’s win and help from Kentucky clinched at least a share of the SEC regular-season championship for South Carolina. “Our kids have worked extremely hard to put us in this position, not only the current ones, but the former ones, the ones who got their head beat in six years ago and then started the building process.”

Staley can never get that 10-18 (2-12 SEC) first season at USC too far out of her mind, but on Sunday, perhaps it took a step that way. The Gamecocks can clinch the undisputed title with a win on Thursday, bringing a long journey to a close.

Although USC isn’t nearly done yet.

“Sharing it is great, but if you’re in a position to take it solely, we want to be greedy at this point,” Staley said. “We want to win it all, as much as we can win.”

USC can finish no worse than 13-3 in the SEC, while the best that Texas A&M and Tennessee can finish is also 13-3. If the Gamecocks win on Thursday, they render Sunday's regular-season finale at Tennessee obsolete for championship and tournament seeding purposes, although they would still want to win for a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

It is the first SEC championship for USC women's basketball, although the program won five regular-season titles in the Metro Conference. It is the 12th SEC regular-season championship in USC's athletic history.

The second-largest women’s basketball crowd in Colonial Life Arena history (10,547) was there on Sunday to watch USC beat Florida. Staley was hopeful for a bigger crowd on Thursday.

“Hopefully our Gamecock Nation will continue to come out and our players continue to focus in on like they’ve been all season long, and do what we’ve done all season long at Colonial Life Arena, which is win,” Staley said.

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