Jan. 31, 2016
COLLEGE STATION, Texas, – Sophomore forward A’ja Wilson and senior guard Tiffany Mitchell combined for 47 points to lead the charge for No. 2/2 South Carolina, which rallied to defeat No. 10/10 Texas A&M, 70-63, on Sunday night at Reed Arena. Wilson registered a game-high 27 points on the way to her 10th double-double of the season, while Mitchell scored 18 of her 20 points in the second half. The Gamecocks, who closed the game on a 20-9 run, moved to 21-0 overall and 9-0 in SEC play with the victory.
After a 3-pointer from Mitchell gave the Gamecocks a 63-56 lead with 3:38 left to play, the teams traded buckets over the next few minutes before a 3-point field goal by Courtney Williams brought the Aggies to within four at 67-63 with 36 seconds remaining. Two free throws from Mitchell made it 69-63, and Texas A&M missed two field goal attempts on the other end before a steal by guard Tina Roy gave the ball back to the Gamecocks. The senior converted 1-of-2 free throws to seal it for South Carolina, which made five of its final six shots.
Tough defense along with clutch scoring from Mitchell and Wilson helped South Carolina snatch the lead from Texas A&M in the final period. The Aggies scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to take a 54-50 advantage with 8:41 to play before Wilson and Mitchell led the South Carolina response. A layup by Wilson made it 54-52, and four-straight points from Mitchell helped the Gamecocks reclaim the lead at 56-54 with 6:36 remaining in the contest. South Carolina’s 10-0 scoring run was capped off by a basket in transition from guard Khadijah Sessions, who scored midway through the period to help the Gamecocks match their largest lead of the half at 60-54. The Aggies shot just 35.0 percent from the floor over the final 10 minutes, missing 12 of their final 16 field goal attempts.
For the second-straight game, Wilson paced the Gamecocks in the early going, tallying three of their first four field goals. Her third bucket gave South Carolina a 9-6 advantage, and the lead grew to 16-10 late in the period after Mitchell scored in transition following an Aggie turnover. The Gamecocks forced four Texas A&M turnovers in the opening 10 minutes and headed to the first break leading, 17-12, despite missing their final six shot attempts of the quarter.
South Carolina’s shooting struggles continued in the beginning stages of the second quarter, and a three-point play by Jordan Jones on the other end brought Texas A&M to within two of the lead. Four consecutive baskets from Williams pushed the Aggies’ run to 13-0 and gave them a 23-17 lead with 6:25 left in the first half. Wilson ended the Gamecocks’ scoring drought and cut the deficit to 27-19 after scoring South Carolina’s first points of the period on a layup down low. The sophomore forward single-handedly carried the Gamecocks on the offensive end over the next few minutes, scoring all of their eight second-quarter points. Wilson finished the first half with 17 of South Carolina’s 25 points, and the Aggies headed to the locker room with a 31-25 lead.
Led by Mitchell, the Gamecocks quickly erased their deficit out of halftime and tied the game at 34 with 7:51 to play in the third quarter. The senior notched five of South Carolina’s nine points during that stretch, including a key steal that led to a three-point play on the break. Another steal and basket in transition by Mitchell gave the Gamecocks a 45-41 lead with just over four minutes left in the period, and a jumper by the guard made it 47-41. South Carolina, which shot 60.0 percent from the floor on 9-of-15 shooting in the third quarter, took a 50-47 advantage into the final period behind nine third-quarter points from Mitchell.
Junior center Alaina Coates notched her league-leading 11th double-double of the season in the win after finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Sessions marked the fourth Gamecock to reach double figures, as she tallied 10 points, while Walker notched a team-high 23 points for the Aggies in the loss. South Carolina held a 40-24 advantage in points in the paint and shot 45.3 percent from the floor for the game.
After Texas A&M scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter, the Gamecocks responded with a 10-0 run to take a 60-54 lead with 5:23 remaining in the game.
South Carolina attempted 17 free throws in the second half compared to just one attempt for the Aggies. The Gamecocks went 14-of-17 from the line over the final 20 minutes, good for an 82.4 shooting percentage.
- In her two games against the Aggies this season, forward A’ja Wilson boasts averages of 26.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 6.0 blocks
- Junior center Alaina Coates recorded a career-high six assists in the win over Texas A&M.
- South Carolina trailed at halftime in both of its victories over the Aggies this season. The Gamecocks took a 27-26 deficit into the locker room when the two teams met back on Jan. 17.
- Sunday’s victory gave South Carolina its fourth win over a top ten opponent this season.
The Gamecocks continue league play on Thur., Feb. 4, when they play host to No. 12/12 Kentucky. Tipoff from Colonial Life Arena is set for 7 p.m. ET, and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.