Women's basketball in AP top 25

ashain@thestate.comFebruary 6, 2012 

S Carolina Tennessee Basketball

South Carolina's Markeshia Grant (5) shoots in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn. South Carolina won 64-60. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

WADE PAYNE/AP

USC’s first win over Tennessee in 32 years landed the Gamecocks women’s basketball team in the AP top 25 for the first time in a month.

Meanwhile, the high scorer against the Volunteers, South Carolina guard Markeshia Grant, was named the SEC Player of the Week.

South Carolina (18-5, 7-3) was ranked No. 24 in the latest AP poll released Monday.

USC spent a week ranked 24th in January after an eight-game winning streak. But then the Gamecocks lost three consecutive games.

Head coach Dawn Staley had what she called a “come-to-Jesus” meeting with her players after a loss at Auburn, and the team has gone on to win four straight, including the 64-60 upset over then-No. 8 Tennessee at Knoxville on Thursday.

The Gamecocks are in solid shape for their first NCAA appearance in nine years. They are third in conference standings and their RPI is 31st in the nation, according to rankings released Monday by the NCAA.

While keeping up its stingy defense that's allowing a national second-best 48.1 points a game, USC’s four-game winning streak has come from an offensive surge.

Grant, a senior from Tampa, is leading the way -- averaging 18 points a game and shooting 44.4 percent from three-point range during the winning streak.

She scored a career-high 27 points in USC’s victory over Tennessee to earn the weekly conference honors. Grant hit seven three-pointers in the game, tied for the best long-range performance in the SEC this season.

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