South Carolina tops Tennessee to complete 2nd-straight perfect regular season

For a second straight season, South Carolina enters postseason play without a loss.

The top-ranked Gamecocks beat Tennessee, 78-68 on Sunday to end the regular-season at 29-0 with a 16-0 record in the SEC. The tallies match last season's Gamecocks, who fell short of perfection in the NCAA tournament with a loss to Iowa and Caitlin Clark in the Final Four that dropped them to 36-1 and two wins short of the program's third national championship.

With the win over Tennessee, South Carolina keeps its quest for the program's first undefeated season alive. The last team to finish the regular season and postseason without a loss was UConn in 2015-16. The Huskies finished 38-0 that season for their 11th national championship and the ninth perfect season in NCAA women's history.

The Gamecocks were in control on Sunday from the opening tip en route to a 20-14 lead first-quarter lead. They extended that lead to 59-48 in the fourth quarter before Tennessee cut its deficit to single digits. The Lady Vols got as close as 67-62 in the fourth quarter to put pressure on South Carolina's perfect regular season. But they never cut their deficit to a single possession. A 6-0 South Carolina run thwarted the Tennessee challenge, and the Gamecocks celebrated their achievement on their home court.

Five South Carolina players scored in double digits, led by All-SEC center Kamila Cardoso, who tallied 18 points and 14 points on her senior day. Te-Hina Paopao added 14 points, four rebounds and four assists, while MiLaysia Fulwiley, Bree Hall and Ashlyn Watkins scored 13 points each.

The Gamecocks picked up the win despite a poor shooting effort from the floor and 3-point distance. South Carolina shot 33.3% from the field and 4 of 16 (25%) from beyond the arc. The Gamecocks controlled the boards with a 57-41 rebound edge and forced 14 Tennessee turnovers en route to an 81-66 advantage in field-goal attempts. They limited the the Lady Vols to 36.4% shooting from the floor and a 4-of-19 (21.1%) effort from 3-point distance.

Up next for the Gamecocks is the SEC tournament, where they'll seek their eighth championship in the last 10 seasons. From there, they'll look avoid the disappointment of last year's NCAA tournament while seeking their third national title since 2017.