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Nov. 1, 2013

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 22/21 South Carolina women’s basketball scored the first 12 points of the night and raced to a 96-35 victory over North Greenville in exhibition play at Colonial Life Arena Friday night. A pair of Gamecock centers in junior Elem Ibiam and freshman Alaina Coates led the scoring attack. The duo tallied 20 points apiece in the contest.

“We’ve been working extremely hard on getting the ball inside,” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said. “Elem (Ibiam) has been doing great in practice in creating space to get high-percentage shots, and Alaina (Coates) has been doing the same. We wanted to make sure we made a conscious effort to get the ball inside to them tonight”

Other notable scorers for the Gamecocks were sophomore guard Tiffany Mitchell with 19 points and junior forward Aleighsa Welch, who contributed 15 points. Welch also grabbed nine rebounds and handed out seven assists, both team-highs.

South Carolina used all 11 players who were available for tonight’s game, with all but two logging double-digit minutes. From the free-throw line South Carolina was 11-for-15 as a team.

The Gamecock defense collected nine steals and manufactured 30 points from 29 Crusader turnovers.

North Greenville was led in scoring by junior guard Timisty Nelson with nine points. Sophomore forward Tierra Richbert and senior forward Jaquazha Barrino secured five boards each.

South Carolina came out strong, scoring the first 12 points of the game, all of which were in the paint. It was nearly five minutes into the night before the Crusaders notched their first points on a layup from Barrino.

It was the defense that allowed the Gamecocks to build a 16-point lead by the 10-minute mark in the first half as South Carolina’s size and athleticism overwhelmed the Crusaders early. Offensively, Mitchell and Welch combined for 14 of the first 16 South Carolina points.

In the first 15 minutes of play, South Carolina dominated the inside game, scoring all of its points in the paint until sophomore guard Khadijah Sessions hit a 3-pointer from the right side of the arc. The shot gave the Gamecocks a 27-point lead.

When the teams entered halftime, the Gamecocks had run out to a 48-10 advantage and never looked back.

As a team, South Carolina shot 60.0 percent from the field and hit 73.3 percent from the free throw line. The Gamecocks’ dominance of the lane led to a 78-17 advantage in points in paint. The defensive effort led to 26 fast break points.

South Carolina opens regular-season play next Fri., Nov. 8, at 7 p.m., when the Gamecocks welcome Charleston Southern to Colonial Life Arena.