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Jan. 2, 2015

Box Score | Photo Gallery 1 media-icon-photogallery.gif | Photo Gallery 2 media-icon-photogallery.gif | Printable Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

Team 1st 2nd Total
Auburn 17 41 58
South Carolina 34 43 77
Coach Staley
Olivia Gaines and Alaina Coates

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 1/1 South Carolina ran an efficient offense early and cranked up the defense to hold off a second-half surge by the Auburn Tigers to open SEC play with a 77-58 win in front of 16,465 fans at Colonial Life Arena Friday night. Sophomore Alaina Coates posted her seventh double-double of the season – her fourth in the last five games – with 11 points and a season-high 14 rebounds. Senior Olivia Gaines put her stamp on the game with defensive pressure that halted the Tigers’ run and three points during the resulting 10-0 run that secured the victory. South Carolina’s 13th-straight win tied the school record for longest win streak.

The Gamecocks dominated the first half with 28 of their 34 points coming in the paint and a stifling defense that kept Auburn off the board until the 15:45 mark and held the Tigers to single digits until there was just 4:39 left in the period. Senior Aleighsa Welch was the early offensive weapon as her leaping ability and long arms corralled offensive rebounds and potentially errant passes above the defense, turning them into close-range shots. Junior Khadijah Sessions was active on the defensive end, coming up with a steal and a circus layup after getting fouled to help the Gamecocks to a quick 9-0 advantage.

Auburn’s Neydja Petithomme put the Tigers on the board with a 3-pointer, but Asia Dozier answered with one of her own. After Hasina Muhammad’s bucket, the Gamecocks launched a 14-4 run that featured six points from Bianca Cuevas and four from Welch, including the last two on a transition layup that made it a 26-9 Gamecock lead with 6:33 to play in the half.

The Tigers scored eight points heading into the half, but the Gamecock veterans kept pace and took a 34-17 lead into the locker room at the break.

South Carolina struggled to pull away early in the second half with Auburn forcing turnovers and the Gamecocks cooling off from the field. After Tiffany Mitchell hit a 3-pointer to make it a 20-point game with 16:25 to play, the Tigers launched a 16-4 run to pull within 48-40 with 11:42 to play.

Behind the second-largest crowd in Colonial Life Arena history, the Gamecocks responded with a 10-0 surge that put the Tigers back on the ropes. Coates kicked off the run with a steal the led to a long jumper from Gaines. A Coates defensive rebound sent the Gamecocks back on offense and Cuevas hit a transition layup and was fouled on the play. The Auburn bench drew a technical foul, and Mitchell buried both free throws ahead of Cuevas completing the traditional three-point play for a 55-40 South Carolina lead. Mitchell picked Asia Robeson’s pocket in the backcourt, and A’ja Wilson cleaned up Mitchell’s miss to keep the surge going. Gaines was fouled on a defensive rebound and hit 1-of-2 from the free throw line to cap the run and put the Gamecocks up 58-40 with 9:33 to play.

From there, the Gamecocks’ pressure defense and interior offense controlled the game. Elem Ibiam and Coates both scored nine of their 11 points each in the second period as South Carolina pulled away.

In addition to Coates, Wilson also posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Joining Coates and Wilson in double figures, Welch added 12, Ibiam 11 and Cuevas finished with 10. Three Gamecocks – Dozier, Sessions and Mitchell – posted a team-high four assists. Coates’ 14 boards is the most pulled down by a Gamecock this season


After Auburn closed within eight midway through the second half, South Carolina cranked up the defensive pressure to launch a 10-0 run over the next two minutes that saw four different Gamecocks score and re-established a comfortable 58-40 lead with 9:33 to play. Senior Olivia Gaines opened and closed the surge offensively and played her usual key role in the lock-down defense as well.


The Gamecocks scored 52 of their 77 points in the paint.


  • With 11 points and a season-high 14 rebounds, Alaina Coates posted her fourth double-doubles in the last five contests. Coates has notched seven total double-doubles this season.
  • Aleighsa Welch was forced to leave the game early in the second half after sliding into the basket support. Welch was taken to the hospital for precautionary testing after being diagnosed with a neck sprain.
  • Before leaving the game, Welch was a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor to net 12 points in just 19 minutes of action.
  • With tonight’s win, the Gamecocks have matched the 1985-86 squads run of 13-straight wins. The streak is a program-best.
  • Tonight’s announced attendance of 16,465 is second only to Colonial Life Arena’s inaugural night when 17,712 watched South Carolina face Clemson on Nov. 11, 2002.



South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley
On Aleighsa Welch going down and Auburn’s subsequent run…
Well she’s extremely important to our team. Just for all the intangible things she brings to us and, obviously, the tangible things. She was having a pretty good game for us. She brought a lot of energy and we were feeding off her energy. But then things settled down, and I think we did a really good job of putting the pressure back on Auburn.

On the fan turnout…
During the game I’m really focused in on what’s happening out there on the floor. I did look around a few times during the game and saw where this place was almost sold out and I’m amazed. I really am amazed that so many people have taken an interest in our team and you can take an interest from afar, but our fans have come and tried to sellout, to pack Colonial Life Arena. And we are forever indebted. It got pretty loud and I think they were really responsible for us going on a 10-0 run when Auburn made a move to tighten the game up.


South Carolina plays its next two SEC games on the road, heading to LSU for a 3 p.m. (ET) tipoff on Sun., Jan. 4, on ESPN2. The Gamecocks then travel to Alabama for a Thursday night game before coming back to Colonial Life Arena for a 1 p.m. tipoff against #11/11 Kentucky on Sun., Jan. 11.