Dawn Staley knew when she took over as the South Carolina coach that Tennessee was the team to beat in the Southeastern Conference.
It took seven seasons for the former All-American, but Staley and the No. 3 Gamecocks have finally toppled the mighty Lady Vols.
Led by 17 points from Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina (29-2) earned its first women's SEC Tournament championship with a 62-46 win over No. 5 Tennessee on Sunday in North Little Rock, Ark. It did so behind Mitchell, the two-time SEC Player of the Year, and 14 points and eight rebounds from Aleighsa Welch.
The Gamecocks, back-to-back regular-season champions, also benefited from the guidance of Staley — the Hall of Famer who took over an afterthought of a program and has possibly overseen a changing of the guard among the SEC's elite.
"It feels pretty good to be where we are today, because we still feel every bit of seven years ago, six years ago, when we just trying to jumpstart the program," Staley said.
South Carolina's win is its second in two weeks against Tennessee (27-5). The Gamecocks were making their first championship game appearance, and they defeated the SEC's longtime power — which was attempting to win the tournament for the 18th time in 36 seasons.
Jordan Reynolds had 17 points to lead the Lady Vols, who finished with their lowest point total in tournament history. Tennessee's previous low was 54 points in a loss to LSU in the tournament semifinals in 2007.
No. 17 Chattanooga 61, East Tennessee St. 56 (OT): Chelsey Shumpert said she and her Chattanooga teammates never panicked even as their 24-point second half lead began to disappear.
"We stayed calm," she said. "If you get a little nervous you start doing things you aren't supposed to."
Shumpert, a a sophomore guard and former Paducah Tilghman star, scored a career-high 26 points, and Chattanooga survived in overtime to win its third straight Southern Conference championship. It was the Mocs' 25th straight win.
East Tennessee State battled back from 24 points down in the second half in Asheville, N.C., to send the game into overtime on a putback by Serena Clark with 1.7 seconds left.
But Shumpert hit a three-pointer and dished out two assists in overtime to deny ETSU its first Southern Conference tournament championship.
Shumpert came in averaging 11.5 points per game but needed to take on a bigger scoring load with the Buccaneers determined to take away center Jasmine Joyner, the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
Shumpert said she made a conscious effort to put the offense on her back, hitting 10 of 18 shots from the field including three three-pointers.
"The first half we saw that they would leave the guard open a lot after the pick-and-roll," Shumpert said. "They were playing good defense on Jas so it opened things up for the guards."
■ Chattanooga Coach Jim Foster said he thinks his team's résumé, which includes wins over No. 5 Tennessee and No. 19 Stanford, will earn it one of the tournament's higher seeds this year.
"I think they're forced to give us a good seed," Foster said. "I think we deserve a good seed."
No. 2 Notre Dame 71, No. 7 Florida St. 58: The Seminoles came up empty in their first Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
"Any time you have experience at something, it's a great teacher," Florida State Coach Sue Semrau said of her team's loss in Greensboro, N.C. "This experience will be a great teacher for us."
Maegan Conwright, a transfer point guard from Kentucky, had 14 points, six assists and four steals for Florida State (29-4), which had their seven-game winning streak snapped.
Thomas More 85, Eastern Mennonite 65 (Saturday): The undefeated Saints, ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division III, defeated Eastern Mennonite in the second round of game of the national tournament at Crestview Hills.
Fomer Boone County star Sydney Moss led all scorers with a game-high 43 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Thomas More (29-0). Abby Owings (Simon Kenton) added 16 points.
William & Mary 92, Hofstra 91 (2OT): Daniel Dixon hit a three-pointer with a half-second left in the second overtime, and William & Mary advanced to the Colonial Athletic Association championship game in Baltimore.
Marcus Thornton matched his career high with 37 points — a CAA tournament record — and former Montgomery County standout Omar Prewitt had a career-best 33 for the top-seeded Tribe (20-11).
William & Mary will face No. 3 seed Northeastern on Monday night for an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
William & Mary is one of five original Division I members never to reach the men's NCAA Tournament. The others: Army, The Citadel, St. Francis (N.Y.) and Northwestern.
No. 6 Wisconsin 72, No. 23 Ohio St. 48: Frank Kaminsky scored 20 points and Bronson Koenig touched off a 16-0 second-half run with two three-pointers to lead Wisconsin in a rout in Columbus, Ohio.
No. 11 N. Iowa 69, Illinois St 60: Seth Tuttle had 15 points, nine rebounds and three assists, leading Northern Iowa back from an 18-point first-half deficit to beat Illinois State in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship game in St. Louis.
Drury 77, Bellarmine 70: Drury hit 60.9 percent of its shots, including 11 of 18 treys. Kameron Bundy and Ben Fisher combined for 46 points as they hit eight of 12 three-pointers.
Bellarmine's Jake Thelen led all scorers with 28. Chris Whitehead had 16 points, nine assists and five rebounds, the only other Knight to reach double figures.
Alderson-Broaddus 50, Kentucky Wesleyan 47: Devin Langford had 12 points and 11 rebounds during that saw Kentucky Wesleyan mostly trail. The Panthers were down by only one with 2:35 to go, but neither team scored again until Ali Bilal sank two free throws with 12 seconds left to set the final margin.
Coastal Carolina 81, Winthrop 70: Warren Gillis scored 22 points and Elijah Wilson had 14 of his 19 in the second half to lead Coastal Carolina to its second consecutive NCAA berth with a victory in the Big South Conference Tournament championship in Conway, S.C.
Iona 95, Monmouth 77: Isaiah Williams and A.J. English combined for 16 of Iona's Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament record 19 three-pointers and the top-seeded Gaels beat Monmouth in the semifinals in Albany, N.Y.
Stony Brook 79, Vermont 77: Freshman Brandon Hatton (Dixie Heights) scored 10 points in Vermont's loss in the semifinals of the America East Conference Tournament in Burlington, Vt.
ACC: Duke's Jahlil Okafor was the first freshman in Atlantic Coast Conference history to win the league's player of the year award.
Okafor and Notre Dame's Jerian Grant were the unanimous picks to an all-ACC first team that also included Syracuse's Rakeem Christmas, Virginia's Malcolm Brogdon and Boston College's Olivier Hanlan. Virginia's Tony Bennett was selected as coach of the year for the second straight season.
Two players from ACC newcomer Louisville — Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier — made the second team along with Duke guard Quinn Cook, N.C. State's Trevor Lacey and Virginia's Justin Anderson.
Murray State: No. 25 Murray State's 25-game winning streak ended Saturday night, and Coach Steve Prohm already was lobbying hard to make sure his Racers' hopes of an NCAA Tournament berth aren't gone, too.
T.J. Sapp's last-gasp shot fell way short of the basket at the buzzer, and Murray lost 88-87 to Belmont in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championship.
"This is an NCAA Tournament team," he said. "I know you don't go off past seasons, but look at everything this league has done since 2010. Look at the guys in the NBA ... Look at what we've done in the postseason. OVC teams have won multiple NCAA Tournament games."
Conference USA: Western Kentucky seniors Chastity Gooch (Franklin-Simpson) and Alexis Govan were both first-team All-Conference selections. Sophomore Kendall Noble (Perry County Central) made the second team, and she and Gooch also picked up all-defensive team honors.