Jan. 21, 2016
AUBURN, Ala. – Paced by another double-double from junior center Alaina Coates and a key run in the second quarter, No. 2/2 South Carolina pushed past Auburn, 74-58, on the road Thursday night at Auburn Arena. Coates tallied 17 points and 10 rebounds, finishing as one of four players in double figures for the Gamecocks, who moved to 18-0 overall and 6-0 in SEC play with the victory.
South Carolina grabbed control of the game midway through the second quarter, closing the half on an 18-0 run after Auburn matched its largest lead of the night at 20-15 early in the period. Guard Tina Roy sparked the beginning of the scoring outburst, as she knocked down two 3-pointers during that stretch before the Gamecock defense took over. The Tigers went scoreless over the final 7:25 of the first half and missed their final 13 shots of the second quarter.
Sophomore forward A’ja Wilson, who chipped in 11 points in the win, punctuated South Carolina’s strong finish to the half. With 37 seconds left, Wilson hauled in a full-court pass and calmly slipped the ball to forward Jatarie White, who scored down low while being fouled. White missed the ensuring free throw, but Wilson was there to grab it and convert the put-back to make it 32-20. The Gamecocks headed to the locker room leading, 33-20, behind a productive first half from Coates, who tallied nine points and nine boards over the first two periods.
South Carolina’s hot shooting in the second half put the game away, and the Gamecocks used another run early in the third quarter to create separation from the Tigers. Auburn cut the lead to 35-25 before seven-straight points by South Carolina gave it its largest advantage of the night at 42-25. Coates connected on two more field goals over the first four minutes of the quarter to push her point total to 13 points, and the junior posted a double-double before the game moved to the fourth quarter. Wilson made sure South Carolina maintained a comfortable lead for the remainder of the third period, as she scored five of the final seven points in the quarter for the Gamecocks, who took a 53-36 advantage into the last 10 minutes of play.
Mitchell, who finished with 13 points, provided the exclamation point in the final quarter, opening the period with seven of South Carolina’s 12 points to make it 65-46 with 6:14 left in the contest. The Gamecocks converted seven of their first eight field goal attempts in the fourth period, and shot 60.0 from the floor in the second half. Roy marked the fourth South Carolina player to reach double-figures in the victory after knocking down another 3-pointer in last period.
Runs by both teams throughout the opening 10 minutes dictated Thursday’s first quarter. The Gamecocks raced out to an 8-0 advantage in the first three minutes following four points from Mitchell and baskets down low from Wilson and Coates. Coates’ third field goal of the night pushed the lead to 12-2 midway through the first period before Auburn went on a 10-0 run to even the contest less than two minutes later. A 3-pointer by guard Katie Frerking extended the run to 13-0 and gave the Tigers their first lead of the game with 2:28 left in the quarter. Guard Bianca Cuevas’ free throw with under a minute to go ended the run and provided the final point of the quarter for the Gamecocks, who trailed, 15-13, heading into the first break.
South Carolina held a 36-16 advantage in points in the paint and held the Tigers to just 34.5 percent shooting on the night. The Gamecocks shot 51.9 percent from the floor in the win and finished the contest with seven 3-pointers. Frerking scored a team-high 17 points for Auburn, as she and Janiah McKay both finished in double figures in the loss.
Down five in the early stages of the second quarter, the Gamecocks shifted the momentum of the game with an 18-0 run to end the half. Six different players scored during that stretch.
South Carolina maintained its comfortable advantage over the Tigers in the second half with an efficient offensive showing over the last two quarters. The Gamecocks shot 15-of-25 from the floor in the final 20 minutes, good for a 60.0 shooting percentage.
- South Carolina has now won 35 of its last 38 regular season SEC contests dating back to the 2013-14 season.
- The Gamecocks have received at least 20 points from their bench in four of their six games in SEC play this season. South Carolina totaled 27 bench points on Thursday.
- Guard Tiffany Mitchell matched a season high with five assists against the Tigers. The senior has averaged 3.3 assists per contest in league play.
- Alaina Coates’ performance on Thursday marked her ninth double-double of the season. She’s grabbed at least 10 rebounds in all six of South Carolina’s conference games.
South Carolina resumes SEC road play on Sun., Jan. 24, when it faces No. 10/10 Mississippi State at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Miss. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. (ET), and the game can be seen on ESPN2.