NASHVILLE, Tn. — Kentucky did the impossible, defeating the No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks 64-62 to win the SEC Championship.
Dre'Una Edwards paced the Wildcats with 27 points, including the game-winning three-pointer. Rhyne Howard added 18.
The Cats were anything but intimidated playing the No. 1 team in the country. The Wildcats and the Gamecocks went toe-to-toe in the first quarter, with both teams shooting 47 percent from the floor to start the game. South Carolina led 21-18 after ten minutes of play. Edwards came off the bench and hit four of her first five shots to score eight points in that time period.
Both teams struggled offensively in the second quarter. Combined, the teams scored just 12 points in the ten minutes of action before halftime - nine for the Gamecocks, three for the Wildcats. Despite UK's poor shooting efforts in the second, their defense kept them in the game. At the break, Kentucky trailed 30-21, with Edwards leading the Cats with 8 points. Howard had 4, off of one early field goal and a pair of free throws.
At the start of the third quarter, South Carolina threatened to put the game out of reach, at one point leading the Cats by as many as 15 points. Still, Kentucky didn't back down, and a Howard three-pointer in transition and a Massengill three-point play off of a layup through contact and a successful free throw put the Cats back within single digits.
UK stayed within striking distance, and they were able to outscore the Gamecocks down the stretch. An Edwards three-pointer got the Cats back within seven points, but South Carolina immediately responded with a three of their own, followed by a Benton 3-pointer for the Wildcats. With less than one minute left on the clock, Kentucky trailed by just one point, but a turnover gave the ball back to the Gamecocks with 18.3 seconds remaining. South Carolina missed two critical free throws in the game's final seconds, giving possession back to the Wildcats with 11.1 seconds to play. Edwards hit a three-pointer with 4.2 seconds on the clock. South Carolina missed a half-court heave as time expired.