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Feb. 15, 2015

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Team 1st 2nd Total
Vanderbilt (13-12, 4-8 SEC) 27 32 59
Carolina (24-1, 12-0) 46 43 89
Coach Staley
A’ja Wilson & Tiffany Mitchell

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 1/2 South Carolina used its defense to spark its offense early in an 89-59 win over Vanderbilt Sunday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena. Junior Tiffany Mitchell led the Gamecocks (24-1, 12-0 SEC) out of the gate, picking up two steals and seven points in the opening three minutes to set a tone that would persist throughout the game. The guard finished with 20 points, matching A’ja Wilson for team-high honors, as South Carolina turned 22 Commodore turnovers into 29 points. For the fourth game in a row, Aleighsa Welch controlled the glass for South Carolina, grabbing nine rebounds, including six on the offensive end.

Mitchell took over at the opening whistle, scoring seven of the Gamecocks’ first nine points. The reigning SEC Player of the Year got things going with a steal she turned into a layup on the other end. Next, she showed off her long-range ability, draining a 3 from the right side. Welch scored the first non-Mitchell basket for the Gamecocks, taking the ball away from the Commodores and driving it down the lane before pulling up for a jumper. Mitchell’s final basket in the stretch was a streaking layup through the lane for an early 9-4 advantage.

Tied at 15-all with 11:30 on the clock, Bianca Cuevas ignited a quick six-point burst with back-to-back steals. A’ja Wilson sent the first takeaway up the court to Mitchell for layup. Cuevas kept the second, driving all the way to the basket before kicking out to Tina Roy for an open 3. The next trip down the court resulted in the third Gamecock steal in four possessions. This time Wilson took the ball away and tipped it to Mitchell for another easy layup to make the score 22-17 with 9:21 to go in the half.

Vanderbilt hit six shots in a row to cut the South Carolina lead to three with 8:25 to play, but Wilson stretched the lead to double digits for the first time with three straight baskets that featured a three-point play to push the score to 31-21. The run came in the middle of 14 Commodore possessions that resulted in four turnovers and just one made basket. Elem Ibiam muscled up a shot while falling down, and Mitchell turned yet another steal into a layup, but then South Carolina went cold, missing its next eight shots. They were able to extend the lead, though, thanks to seven points at the free throw line in the final 4:30 of the half. Finally, Welch broke the seal with a putback at the buzzer to make the score 46-27 at the break.

Out of the locker room, Vanderbilt scored the first six points to pull within 13 at 46-33. The momentum swing prompted a Gamecock line change that put Wilson, Coates, Cuevas, Roy and Olivia Gaines on the court. With the fresh lineup in the game, South Carolina outscored the Commodores by 10 over the next 7:29. Roy immediately scored on a 3 from the deep right corner on an in-bounds play. Coates converted a conventional three-point play the next possession, and Roy answered the following Vanderbilt 3 with another of her own the next trip down the court. Roy then found Coates in the post for a layup and Cuevas sent a no-look pass into Wilson on the block for an easy layup to force another Vanderbilt timeout. By the time the starters returned to the court, the lead had blossomed to 67-44 with 9:46 to go. The starters put the exclamation point on the win by returning with a 12-3 run to set the Gamecocks on track for an 89-59 win.

Wilson had another stellar day at the free throw line, converting 10-of-11. With 15 first-half points, Mitchell matched her performance against Syracuse in November for the most points scored by a Gamecock in a half. Coates returned to form with 14 points. Cuevas matched a career-high with five assists and set her new SEC-game high with three steals. Roy was 3-of-4 from behind the arc to add nine points and dished our four assists. Overall, South Carolina swiped 14 steals, its highest total in SEC play this season.


Vanderbilt attempted to mount a comeback out of the locker room, scoring the first six points of the second half. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley went to her bench with a line change to hold off the Commodores. The new lineup outscored Vanderbilt by 10 over the next 7:29 to put the game out of reach.

KEY STAT In a team effort that saw 11 of 12 Gamecocks grab at least one rebound, South Carolina dominated Vanderbilt on the boards out-rebounding the Commodores 43-23, a total that included a 20-7 edge on the offensive glass. The differential is the Gamecocks’ largest rebounding margin in SEC play this season.


  • With today’s win, the Gamecocks have ensured a second-straight season with at least 12 SEC wins. Last season and this season are the only two occasions in program history that South Carolina has reached the plateau.
  • For the first time in her Gamecock career, A’ja Wilson has posted back-to-back 20-point games. She now owns four 20-point outings this season.
  • Tiffany Mitchell and Wilson netting 20 each marked the Gamecocks’ first game with two 20-point scorers since Wilson, Ibiam and Coates reached the threshold against Savannah State in December.
  • South Carolina got 56.1 percent of its points in the paint and 57.3 percent from its bench.



QUOTABLE South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley
On winning 30-straight games at home… Sometimes I lose track of what the numbers are, but our fans, they do a really good job of tweeting what the numbers are. When the fans are into it like they are and they create an environment like this, they make you embrace them. I know they’re embracing our team when our fans are the ones that created this. From last year on, they put us in a position to not lose with how they support us and I hope we can never lose in the building again.

UP NEXT South Carolina hits the road to face Arkansas on Thu., Feb. 19, at 9 p.m. on the SEC Network. The Gamecocks return to Colonial Life Arena for their final two home regular-season contests, starting with their Play 4 Kay game presented by Academy Sports against Tennessee on Mon., Feb. 23, followed by Mississippi State on Thu., Feb. 26.