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Dec. 22, 2013

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 10/10 South Carolina dominated South Carolina State in a 70-26 victory Sunday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks (11-1) overpowered the Lady Bulldogs on the glass, and the offense was clicking on all cylinders. Freshman Alaina Coates posted a perfect day, going 7-of-7 from the field and 9-of-9 from the free throw line to score a career-high 23 points.

The Gamecocks were aggressive on offense and took care of the boards on defense, never allowing the Lady Bulldogs to find a rhythm en route to a commanding 37-12 lead at halftime. Points came from all sources for South Carolina with three Gamecocks finishing the period with seven points.

Redshirt freshman Tiffany Davis got the ball rolling with a 3-pointer on South Carolina’s first possession. After the Lady Bulldogs went up 4-3 at the 17:26 mark, the Gamecocks launched a 26-2 run that spanned the next 10 minutes. Aleighsa Welch hit a layup in transition, and a pair of South Carolina State turnovers led to an inside bucket from Elem Ibiam and a 3 from Tiffany Mitchell. Cherisha Floyd briefly stemmed the tide with a long jumper to make it a 10-6 game with 14:24 to play in the half, but the Gamecocks went right back to work.

Ibiam hit a pair of free throws, and Welch put back a miss to go up 13-6. Coates converted another Lady Bulldog turnover from the left block, and Tina Roy followed with a 3-pointer from the right side to make it a double-digit advantage at 18-6. The Gamecock defense forced the first of what would become three shot clock violations in the half, and Olivia Gaines drained a long jumper. In transition off a steal, Roy put a beautiful ball-fake on her defender and converted the layup. As the Lady Bulldogs struggled from the field and the Gamecocks controlled the defensive glass, the points kept pouring in. Coates converted a traditional three-point play and added two more free throws on the next possession. Gaines capped the surge with two free throws for a 29-6 South Carolina lead with 7:27 left in the half.

The second half began just like the first with Davis burying a 3, and the Gamecocks continued to roll behind Coates, who scored 16 of her 23 points in the second half. Her 7-of-7 field goal shooting tied for the fourth-best perfect shooting game at Colonial Life Arena and the best freshman accuracy in school history. Her perfection at the free throw line was also a South Carolina freshman record.

South Carolina out-rebounded the Lady Bulldogs 47-21, including 20 offensive boards. Ibiam and Mitchell led the way on the glass with nine boards apiece. Mitchell added four assists to lead the team, which handed out assists on 19 of 26 made field goals. Welch, Davis and Dozier each handed out three.

The Gamecocks will take a short break for the Christmas holiday, bookending the week with a noon tipoff on Sat., Dec. 28, against Savannah State at Colonial Life Arena.