GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP, WLTX) - A'ja Wilson had 26 points and No. 5 South Carolina reached the Southeastern Conference finals for the third straight year, beating Kentucky 89-77 on Saturday.
The Gamecocks (26-4) saw a 14-point lead slip to 75-73 on Alyssa Rice's layup with 4:12 to go. But Wilson followed with a pair of foul shots to start a closing 14-4 run.
The Gamecocks will face either No. 6 Mississippi State or Texas A&M on Sunday.
Kaela Davis and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan had 17 points each for the Gamecocks.
Makayla Epps had 31 points and fellow all-SEC first-team teammate Evelyn Akhator added 24 for the Wildcats (21-10). They have lost six in row to South Carolina.
Perhaps of greatest concern will be the health of star center Alaina Coates. She's been dealing with an ankle injury for the last week, and was held out of the team's opening tournament game Friday. But with 1:02 to go in the 3rd quarter, she reinjured the ankle, needing assistance to get off the court and seemingly unable to put weight on her foot.
Staley confirmed after the game that Coates will not play in Sunday's title game.
The Gamecocks will play the winner of Mississippi State and Texas A&M on Sunday.