|SCORE BY PERIODS|
|Alabama (12-11, 1-7 SEC)||21||33||54|
|#1 S. Carolina (20-0, 8-0 SEC)||38||47||85|
Jan. 29, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 1/1 South Carolina deployed its depth to surge past Alabama, 85-54, on Thursday night at Colonial Life Arena with A’ja Wilson and Alaina Coates leading the way. Wilson scored a game-high 17 points for Gamecocks (20-0, 8-0 SEC) and Coates notched her ninth double-double of the season with 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds while also swatting five shots. Coates recorded 10 double-doubles in all of last season on her way to claiming SEC Freshman of the Year honors.
Despite trailing 6-8 early with Tiffany Mitchell saddled with two early fouls, the Gamecocks started to find easy baskets and launched a 14-0 run as part of a stretch of 11 straight made baskets. Elem Ibiam kicked off the surge with an open lay in set up by Mitchell. Next, Asia Dozier found Khadijah Sessions on the baseline for a jumper. Wilson, Coates and Bianca Cuevas checked in on the next dead ball and immediately made an impact. Wilson swished a jumper on her first touch and, on the next trip down the court, Cuevas hit Aleighsa Welch with a no-look pass in the lane for a lay up. It was Cuevas again on the next possession, hitting Wilson in transition for another score. Sessions took a steal all the way and Cuevas drained a long jumper to push the advantage to 20-8 at the 11:23 mark.
Alabama’s Karyla Middlebrook stopped the bleeding for Alabama with a 3 over Welch, but the Crimson Tide hit just three of their last 16 first-half shots. The Gamecocks cooled from the field, but took a 38-21 lead into the locker room.
Thanks to some sloppy South Carolina play, the Crimson Tide pulled to within 13 at 53-40 with 12:40 to go. On back-to back possessions, Alabama scored with an Ashley Williams three-point play and a 3 on the left wing from Hannah Cooke, but the Gamecocks responded with a quick 12-0 run. Wilson snatched an offensive rebound and touched it over to Coates on the block and the sophomore earned a three-point play of her own. On the next possession, Coates corralled her own miss and put it back. Mitchell added another old-fashioned three-point play, and Coates hit both ends of a 1-and-1. Cuevas capped the furious two-minute run by turning her own miss into points for a 65-40 lead with 10 minutes to play.
Just five minutes after Alabama had pulled within 13, South Carolina ran back out in front by 28 points at 72-48 and went on to take the 85-54 win.
Wilson went 7-of-9 from the floor and scored nine of her game-high 17 points in just five first-half minutes. The freshman also grabbed five rebounds and matched a career best with three assists. Coates posted a solid 4-of-5 performance from the free throw line on her way to a double-double. Mitchell added 11 points and four rebounds as 10 Gamecocks scored. With five assists, Cuevas matched her career high.
With the lead down to 13 with 12:40 to play, the Gamecocks went on a 12-0 run over the next two minutes to put the game away. Alaina Coates was aggressive in the stretch, scoring seven points in 90 seconds.
Thanks to big nights from super subs Coates and Wilson, the Gamecock bench outscored its starters 48-37. It’s the 11th time this season the bench has outscored starting five.
- Of 11 Gamecocks to see the floor, 10 scored at least five points and nine grabbed at least one rebound.
- Alaina Coates’ ninth double-double of the season leaves her one shy of her freshman-year total. She is now tied with teammate Aleighsa Welch at 19 in her career, one shy of the program’s all-time top 10.
- Alaina Coates’ five blocks are the highest by a Gamecock this season and tied her career high, which she had posted twice before in SEC action.
South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley
On getting to 20-0 in tonight’s game…
It’s just another step on the road. I think we do want to enjoy the journey because it’s a place that we’ve never been. At the same time, this team is just focused on the next challenge. I don’t think we’re into the record; we’re into the next challenge. The next challenge is playing at Ole Miss – a pretty good Ole Miss basketball team – and taking care of possibly getting another win on the road.
TWEETS OF THE GAME
The @GamecockWBB is the reason why I’m proud to be a Gamecock!
— Maxxx (@XayvsMaxxx) January 30, 2015
— Mrs.Thorne (@apostoliclady83) January 30, 2015
The Gamecocks kick off a stretch of three straight road contests at Ole Miss on Sun., Feb. 1, at 4:30 p.m., with ESPNU set for the broadcast. Following the game vs. the Rebels, the Gamecocks travel to face No. 21/20 Georgia on Thurs., Feb. 5, at 7 p.m., followed by the showdown vs. No. 2/2 Connecticut in Storrs, Conn., on Mon., Feb. 9, at 8 p.m.