Feb. 22, 2016
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Junior center Alaina Coates grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds and No. 3/2 South Carolina held Alabama to 28.6 percent shooting on its way to a 66-46 win over the Crimson Tide on Monday night at Foster Auditorium. The victory moved the Gamecocks to 26-1 overall and helped them remain perfect in SEC play at 14-0 with two games left to play in the regular season.
South Carolina outscored Alabama in each of the first three quarters before an 8-2 run to open the final period pushed the lead to 53-33 and gave the Gamecocks permanent control of the contest. The frontcourt duo of Coates and sophomore forward A’ja Wilson proved to be too much for the Crimson Tide, who have lost each of their last 12 contests against the Gamecocks. Coates added 13 points to register her SEC-leading 14th double-double of the season, while Wilson also boasted a double-double after totaling 16 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Tiffany Mitchell added 10 points, and fellow guard Khadijah Sessions finished with a career-high 11 boards.
South Carolina’s offense came from Wilson and Mitchell in the early stages of the contest, as the pair accounted for all of the team’s first seven points. Wilson’s jumper put the Gamecocks up 7-2 with 6:26 left in the opening quarter before both offensives began to struggle, combining for just two points over the next four minutes of play. Coates converted a layup down low to break the scoring drought and stretch the lead to 9-4 for South Carolina, which scored seven of the period’s final nine points to take a 14-6 lead into the first break. Sessions, who was one of five Gamecocks to score in the first 10 minutes, controlled the boards in the early going with six rebounds in the opening quarter.
The Gamecocks’ guards helped them continue their momentum in the second quarter, and 3-pointers from Sessions and sophomore Bianca Cuevas gave South Carolina its first double-digit lead at 20-8. A 3-pointer from Mitchell and four points from Coates helped the Gamecocks maintain a 10-point advantage over the next few minutes, and their cushion was pushed to 30-17 following Wilson’s third field goal of the night.
Coates registered South Carolina’s final points of the half, scoring another bucket down low less than a minute later, and the Gamecocks headed to the locker room leading, 32-22. The junior’s early offensive production nearly led to a first-half double-double, as she tallied eight points and 11 rebounds over the first 20 minutes of action. South Carolina’s defense held the Crimson Tide to 26.5 percent shooting in the first half, and Alabama connected on just two of its 18 3-point attempts during that span.
Guard play once again sparked South Carolina’s offense out of the break. Nice ball movement set up a 3-pointer for senior guard Asia Dozier to make it 35-22, and a steal and layup in transition by Mitchell gave the Gamecocks a 37-25 lead with 6:50 left in the third period. The Gamecocks’ defense stepped up down the stretch, forcing the Crimson Tide to miss eight of their final nine shots of the quarter. South Carolina took advantage of Alabama’s offensive woes and built a 45-31 lead through three quarters following a great hustle play from Wilson at the end of the period. After committing a turnover, the sophomore quickly snagged the ball back and found senior forward Sarah Imovbioh, who converted an easy layup in the paint.
The Gamecocks scored eight of the fourth quarter’s first 10 points to grab their largest lead of the night at 53-33. Coates tallied three points during that stretch, and two more free throws from the center made it 55-36 with 6:44 left to play. Cuevas provided the final exclamation point midway through the period, as the sophomore swiped a steal and eventually set up Mitchell for a layup with a nifty behind-the-back pass to help South Carolina maintain its sizeable advantage. Guards Tina Roy and Doniyah Cliney and Imovbioh each converted a field goal over the final 2:41 for the Gamecocks, who shot 38.3 percent from the floor on the night.
Guard Shaquera Wade marked the only Alabama player to reach double figures, as she finished with 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting. South Carolina sported a 32-20 advantage in points in the paint and outrebounded the Crimson Tide, 58-31.
South Carolina used an 8-2 run to start the fourth quarter to build a 20-point lead and pull away from the Crimson Tide for good. Junior Alaina Coates and sophomore A’ja Wilson scored all of the Gamecocks’ points during that stretch.
The Gamecocks held Alabama in check from the 3-point line, as the Crimson Tide shot just 10.7 percent (3-of-28) from behind the arc. Alabama came into Monday’s contest shooting 28.6 percent on 3-point attempts.
- Monday’s victory over the Crimson Tide gave South Carolina’s 2016 Senior Class its program-record 114th win.
- Tiffany Mitchell’s 10-point performance against Alabama marked the 100th double-digit point effort of the senior guard’s career.
- Alabama guard Hannah Cook, who boasted a team-high 12.8 points per game prior to Monday’s contest, was held to just three points on 1-of-12 shooting.
- The Crimson Tide’s 10.7 percent shooting from the 3-point line was the second lowest for a South Carolina opponent this season. Their 28 attempts from behind the arc were the most the Gamecocks have seen in a game this season.
The Gamecocks play their final conference road game on Thur., Feb. 25, when they face Ole Miss at Tad Smith Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. ET, and the contest can be seen on SEC Network+.