No. 1 Lady Gamecocks rip Tide for perfect 20-0 start

uscwhoops-sessionschargeNo. 1 South Carolina deployed its depth to surge past Alabama, 85-54, on Thursday night at Colonial Life Arena with A’ja Wilson and Alaina Coates leading the way.

Wilson scored a game-high 17 points for Gamecocks (20-0, 8-0 SEC) and Coates notched her ninth double-double of the season with 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds while also swatting five shots. Coates recorded 10 double-doubles in all of last season on her way to claiming SEC Freshman of the Year honors.

Despite trailing 6-8 early with Tiffany Mitchell saddled with two early fouls, the Gamecocks started to find easy baskets and launched a 14-0 run as part of a stretch of 11 straight made baskets. Elem Ibiam kicked off the surge with an open lay in set up by Mitchell.

Next, Asia Dozier found Myrtle Beach product Khadijah Sessions on the baseline for a jumper. Wilson, Coates and Bianca Cuevas checked in on the next dead ball and immediately made an impact. Wilson swished a jumper on her first touch and, on the next trip down the court, Cuevas hit Aleighsa Welch with a no-look pass in the lane for a lay up.

It was Cuevas again on the next possession, hitting Wilson in transition for another score. Sessions took a steal all the way and Cuevas drained a long jumper to push the advantage to 20-8 at the 11:23 mark. Sessions finished with seven points, four rebounds and assists and three steals.

Alabama’s Karyla Middlebrook stopped the bleeding for Alabama with a 3 over Welch, but the Crimson Tide hit just three of their last 16 first-half shots. The Gamecocks cooled from the field, but took a 38-21 lead into the locker room.

Thanks to some sloppy South Carolina play, the Crimson Tide pulled to within 13 at 53-40 with 12:40 to go. On back-to back possessions, Alabama scored with an Ashley Williams three-point play and a 3 on the left wing from Hannah Cooke, but the Gamecocks responded with a quick 12-0 run.

Wilson snatched an offensive rebound and touched it over to Coates on the block and the sophomore earned a three-point play of her own. On the next possession, Coates corralled her own miss and put it back. Mitchell added another old-fashioned three-point play, and Coates hit both ends of a 1-and-1. Cuevas capped the furious two-minute run by turning her own miss into points for a 65-40 lead with 10 minutes to play.

Just five minutes after Alabama had pulled within 13, South Carolina ran back out in front by 28 points at 72-48 and went on to take the 85-54 win.

Photo by USC Athletics

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