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Feb. 17, 2013

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OXFORD, Miss. – No. 16/14 South Carolina scored a 62-47 victory at Ole Miss Sunday afternoon behind a double-double from Ashley Bruner (15 pts/13 rebs), her third in four games and 10th of her career. Four Gamecocks (21-5, 9-4 SEC) finished with double-figure points, let by Bruner and Tiffany Mitchell with 15 each. South Carolina solved the Rebels’ zone, finding seams to get to the basket or hit pull-up jumpers, and won the battle of the boards with a 45-39 rebounding advantage.

South Carolina brought Mitchell of the bench for the first time this season, and the freshman went right to work, finishing the half with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Mitchell did much of her damage in transition as the Gamecocks controlled the defensive glass, led by Bruner’s six among her eight total boards in the opening 20 minutes, and swiped four steals in the first period. Defensively, South Carolina was right on track, limiting the Rebels to just 15 points.

After the Rebels pulled within a point a 9-8 six minutes into the contest, South Carolina stormed through a 13-3 run that established a 22-11 lead with six minutes to go in the half. Aleighsa Welch kicked off the surge with a pair of free throws, and Ieasia Walker hit a turnaround jumper ahead of a Diara Moore free throw. Sancheon White’s pull-up jumper kept things going, as did Ole Miss turnovers on three of its next four possessions, two of which led directly to Mitchell layups. Valencia McFarland drove the baseline for an Ole Miss basket, but the Gamecocks hit a free throw and a transition jumper for the 11-point advantage. The teams traded basketball in the final stretch with the Gamecocks scoring on a lob to Mitchell in the last possession to take a 29-15 lead into halftime.

Ole Miss stormed out of the locker room on a 10-2 run to pull within six at 31-25 just 90 seconds into the second half. Bruner and Welch got the Gamecocks back on track, sparking a 9-0 spurt that returned the lead to 15 points. Bruner’s move underneath got things going, and Welch converted a traditional three-point play to go up 36-25 with just under 18 minutes to play. Khadijah Sessions added a baseline jumper, and Welch hit another shot rolling to the basket.

The Rebels continued to battle, but the Gamecocks would not let them have any traction, going inside relentlessly where Bruner and Welch converted on a regular basis while the defense did not allow consecutive baskets for the final 9:46 of the game.

Bruner’s 13 rebounds are her highest mark in an SEC game in her career, and she added three steals and two assists to her effort. Welch and Sessions each added 11 points to the offensive effort, and Walker posted five assists and five steals to go with her six rebounds. The Gamecocks shot 39.4 percent from the field and reset their season-high free throw percentage for the second-straight game, hitting 72.7 percent from the charity stripe. South Carolina out-scored Ole Miss 38-22 in the paint and converted 15 offensive rebounds into 16 points.

The Gamecocks enjoy a break from a mid-week game this week, but return to Colonial Life Arena on Sun., Feb. 24, when the they will take on Mississippi State at 3 p.m.