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Feb. 1, 2015

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Team 1st 2nd Total
South Carolina (21-0, 9-0 SEC) 36 41 77
Ole Miss (14-8, 4-5 SEC) 29 30 59
Bianca Cuevas and Coach Staley

OXFORD, Miss. – No. 1/1 South Carolina weathered a physical first half to pull away from Ole Miss and earn a 77-59 win at Tad Smith Coliseum on Sunday afternoon. Five Gamecocks (21-0, 9-0 SEC) reached double figures as freshman Bianca Cuevas led the way with a career-high 21 points. Alaina Coates notched her 10th double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds, matching her season double-double total from her SEC Freshman of the Year campaign last year. The 20 career double-doubles moves the center into the program’s all-time top 10 in the category in just 55 games.

Trailing most of the first half as shots just wouldn’t fall, the Gamecocks mounted an 8-0 run behind seven points from Tiffany Mitchell. The reigning SEC Player of the Year started the run with South Carolina down 21-12 with 7:14 left in the first half by burying a 3 from the left corner off a kick-out from Aleighsa Welch on the inside. After being fouled on a defensive rebound, Khadijah Sessions hit one of two free throws. Mitchell went right back to work, hitting a transition jumper off Tina Roy’s defensive rebound and driving though the lane for a layup after the Gamecocks stopped the Rebels on the other end.

Shequila Joseph stopped the initial surge with a 3 from the top of the key, but the Gamecocks had found their rhythm, which would carry them through a 24-8 run that closed the half. After another Mitchell 3-pointer closed it to a one-point game with 2:49 to go before halftime, the Gamecocks took a 28-27 lead on A’ja Wilson free throws that followed her two-offensive rebound possession. Joseph scored for Ole Miss, and Wilson knotted the game at 29-29 with a free throw that ended up starting the 8-0 run that would end the period as the Gamecock defense locked down the Rebels, forcing them into tough shots that would not fall. Cuevas scored the last six points in the final minute of the half, showing off her quickness beating everyone down the floor to send the Gamecocks into the locker room with a 36-29 advantage.

In the second half, the Gamecocks went inside to Elem Ibiam. After the Rebels had closed to within three at 36-33 early in the period, the senior went on a personal 8-2 run that pushed the lead to 44-35 with 14:19 to go. Ole Miss’ Erika Sisk hit a layup in transition, but Ibiam countered on the other end, this time with a kickout to Cuevas, who drained a 3 from the right corner to put South Carolina up 47-37 with 13:53 to play.

The teams traded baskets, but the Rebels could not make any headway. With their leading scorer, Tia Faleru, on the bench with four fouls and scoreless in the game, Ole Miss saw the Gamecocks score the next six points for a 57-41 lead that the Rebels could not overcome.

Nearly half of Cuevas’ game-high 21 points came at the free throw line with the freshman hitting 9-of-11 from the line. The guard also matched her career best with four rebounds while logging 24 minutes on the floor, the most of her career. Wilson and Mitchell added 11 points each with six and five rebounds, respectively. With 10 points, Ibiam reached double figures for the first time since posting 11 in the SEC opener on Jan. 2. Coates led the way on the glass with 10 on her way to her SEC-leading 10th double-double.


After Ole Miss pulled within three at 36-33 with 17:24 to go, Elem Ibiam took over, scoring eight of the game’s next 10 points to push the South Carolina lead back to 44-35.


Five Gamecocks reached double digits for the first time since six did so in the 102-59 win at Alabama.


  • The Gamecock defense held the SEC’s third-leading scorer, Tia Faleru, scoreless until the 8:46 mark of the second half. The senior entered the game averaging 15.0 points.
  • With three bench players in double figures – Coates, Cuevas and Wilson – the unit out-scored the Gamecock starters 43-34. The South Carolina bench has outscored or matched the starting five 12 times this season.



The Gamecocks continue their three-game road swing at Georgia on Thurs., Feb. 5. The SEC Network will have the broadcast of the 7 p.m. contest.