KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- South Carolina didn't bother with any big celebration after clinching at least a share of its third straight Southeastern Conference women's basketball title.
The third-ranked Gamecocks have bigger goals in mind.
A'ja Wilson scored 25 points and had five blocks as No. 3 South Carolina beat No. 24 Tennessee 62-56 on Monday night to move four games ahead in the SEC standings with four games to play. The Gamecocks (24-1, 12-0) can clinch the championship outright Thursday by beating Georgia.
"It says a lot about our program and where we came from," South Carolina guard Tiffany Mitchell said. "The hard work we put in each day, it's paying off. We have unfinished business to handle."
South Carolina won the SEC regular-season championship outright in 2014 and tied Tennessee for first place last season. The Gamecocks, who reached the Final Four last season, are seeking to become the first SEC team to go unbeaten in conference play since Tennessee's 2011 squad.
"I want to win all of them," South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. "Have I looked at the history and have seen what kind of programs have done it? Would we like to be in that (group)? Absolutely. But we're going to take it one game at a time."
Tennessee (15-10, 6-6) led 35-32 in the third quarter before Mitchell scored six straight points to help the Gamecocks take control. After hitting a game-tying 3-pointer, Mitchell made a basket that put South Carolina ahead for good with 2:47 left in the third.
The Lady Vols were within three points with seven minutes left before South Carolina went on a 12-2 run to seal the victory. This marks the first time Tennessee has ever lost six regular-season conference games in one season,
"We're on uncharted waters for us right now," Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. "All I know for us to do is to keep working, keep our head up and keep fighting. ... Our goal is to win the SEC tournament, and we have a great chance of doing that."
Diamond DeShields scored 21 points and Bashaara Graves had 13 points and 10 rebounds for Tennessee, which committed 19 turnovers. Khadijah Sessions had 13 points and Mitchell added 12 for South Carolina
South Carolina has won its last three meetings with Tennessee, but this marked only the second time in 23 attempts that the Gamecocks have beaten the Lady Vols in Knoxville. The other South Carolina victory over Tennessee in Knoxville was a 64-60 decision in 2012.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks set a school record by earning their 11th win over a ranked foe this season.
Tennessee: Graves made her first start since Jan. 28. She had missed two games with a sprained ankle and came off the bench for two games after returning to action. Reserve guard Alexa Middleton missed a second straight game with a sprained ankle.
WINNING CLOSE GAMES
South Carolina's ability to win a close game shouldn't come as a surprise. The Gamecocks have played 11 games that had single-digit margins in the last five minutes. They've won all of them.
"We've got seniors who've played a lot of basketball for us, a lot of tough environments," Staley said. "It's familiar to them. We don't fret about being down or playing close games. I think we play our best basketball in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line."
South Carolina withstood a scoreless performance from Alaina Coates, who entered the night averaging 12.5 points per game. Coates did have 10 rebounds. Staley noted that Coates also helped contain Tennessee center Mercedes Russell, who had just five points and eight rebounds.
"She had a huge impact on this game from a defensive standpoint and a rebounding standpoint," Staley said.
South Carolina: Hosts Georgia on Thursday
Tennessee: Hosts Ole Miss on Thursday
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