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Nov. 25, 2013

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LOS ANGELES – No. 17/14 South Carolina was outstanding in the second half of Monday night’s 70-50 win at Southern Cal. The 20-point win was the seventh of the season for the Gamecocks, who got a career night from sophomore Tiffany Mitchell, who scored 22 points to go with six rebounds and four assists. Leading by six at the half, South Carolina (7-0) scored the first six points of the second half en route to 65.0 percent shooting in the period to stamp its authority on the game.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair with neither team able to fully wrest control of the game. For the Gamecocks, Mitchell did a bulk of the damage early, driving relentlessly to the basket. The aggression helped the fouls pile up for Southern Cal, which let the Gamecocks work from the free throw line, where they went 7-of-9, late in the half.

The score was tied five times in the first period, the last coming a 11-11 with 13:14 on the clock. The Trojans took a lead on a free throw, but Alaina Coates put the Gamecocks back on top with a move on the right block. Both teams turned the ball over, but Khadijah Sessions turned an offensive rebound from Aleighsa Welch into a 3-pointer from the left wing to put South Carolina up 16-12 midway through the half. After a steal, Elem Ibiam put back her own miss to stretch the advantage to six. Ariya Crook scored on a move inside, but the Gamecocks took advantage of another Trojan turnover to score on consecutive possessions. The first was a well-timed backdoor layup by Tina Roy on a pass from Wilka Montout. Mitchell’s free throws gave South Carolina its largest lead of the half at 22-14 with 5:36 to go in the period. Crook scored six straight points on aggressive drives to the basket, but the Gamecocks held their own on the other end to take a 30-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Gamecocks steamed into the second half, aggressively building a 12-point lead with six unanswered points. Mitchell drove the lane and dumped it off to Ibiam on the right block for the first bucket of the half. Asia Dozier delivered in transition off a great lead pass from Mitchell off a defensive rebound. Another one-and-done possession for the Trojans triggered a transition layup from Welch to put the Gamecocks up 36-24 less than two minutes into the half. The lead grew to 15 with 14:55 left to play on a free throw from Mitchell and a tough basket in traffic by Coates after Mitchell drove and dumped it off to her.

South Carolina fed the Trojans more of the same throughout the half with the lead stretching as wide as 18 before half the period was gone. The Trojans scored six straight off three Gamecock turnovers to draw within 12 with 4:22 to go, but the Gamecocks went back to their starting lineup to settle things down.

Joining Mitchell in double figures was Welch with 12, eight of which came in the second half, and Roy with a season-high 11. The Gamecocks finished with 50.0 percent shooting from the field and hit 76.9 percent from the free throw line (20-of-26). Coates paced the Gamecocks on the glass with nine to go with her eight points.

South Carolina returns to Colonial Life Arena for a 7 p.m. tipoff against NC Central on Mon., Dec. 2.