Feb. 25, 2016
OXFORD, Miss. – Led by strong defense and a productive offensive night from its frontcourt, No. 3/2 South Carolina moved past Ole Miss, 66-45, on the road Thursday night at the Pavilion. Junior center Alaina Coates registered her second-straight double-double, and sophomore forward A’ja Wilson finished 8-of-8 from the floor for the Gamecocks, who boasted a 40-8 advantage in points in the paint in the victory. South Carolina moved to 27-1 overall and a perfect 15-0 in SEC play following the win.
Tough defense and inside scoring paced a second-quarter swing that gave the Gamecocks a double-digit advantage at the half. More offensive production down low helped South Carolina combat a second-half scoring run by the Rebels before the Gamecocks pulled away from Ole Miss down the stretch. Coates totaled 11 points and 14 rebounds, while Wilson poured in a team-high 16 points to go along with three assists and five blocks. Senior guard Tiffany Mitchell chipped in 12 points, including eight in the second half.
South Carolina shot the ball efficiently over the first 10 minutes, connecting on six of its nine first-quarter field goal attempts. Baskets down low by sophomore Bianca Cuevas and Coates propelled the Gamecocks in the early going, and a free throw by guard Asia Dozier gave them a 5-4 lead midway through first period. After the Rebels grabbed a 7-5 advantage, South Carolina responded with a 7-0 run to make it 12-7 behind baskets from Mitchell and Wilson and free throws from Coates and Cuevas. Ole Miss again took the lead at 14-13 before the Gamecocks closed the quarter on a 5-0 run to take an 18-14 advantage into the second quarter.
The Gamecocks’ defense and size in the frontcourt helped them establish firm control of the game in the second period. South Carolina allowed just two second-quarter field goals, and Ole Miss missed 16 of their final 17 shot attempts of the first half. The Gamecocks took advantage of the Rebels’ offensive struggles, closing the second quarter on a 16-3 run behind great production in the paint from Wilson and Coates. The pair combined for 12 second-quarter points, and Wilson connected on each of her six field goal attempts over the first 20 minutes to reach double figures by halftime. Cuevas provided the exclamation point on South Carolina’s dominant 10-minute stretch, swiping a steal before converting a layup late in the period to give the Gamecocks a 34-19 lead at the break.
The offense continued to come from the inside for South Carolina in the third quarter, and Coates’ fourth field goal of the night made it 36-19 less than a minute into the second half. The Gamecocks saw their lead cut to seven at 36-29 following a 10-0 run by the Rebels, but they once again answered with their frontcourt. Another layup by Coates stretched the advantage back to double-digits, and Wilson’s basket down low gave South Carolina a 42-29 lead with 4:10 left in the period. The Gamecocks maintained a double-digit cushion for the remainder of the quarter, and senior guard Tina Roy’s beautiful lob pass to Wilson led to the final points of the period to make it 50-37.
South Carolina pulled further away from the Rebels in the fourth quarter, scoring seven of the first nine points of the period to establish a 57-39 advantage. Guard Doniyah Cliney tallied five points during that stretch, and her second field goal of the quarter gave the Gamecocks their largest lead of the contest at 62-40 with 3:27 left to play. South Carolina remained tough on the defensive end, as the Rebels missed nine of their final 10 field goal attempts of the game.
Ole Miss guard Madinah Muhammad finished with a game-high 20 points and four 3-pointers for the Rebels, while fellow guard Shandricka Sessom added 13 points. South Carolina boasted a 40-32 rebound advantage and shot 56.1 percent from the floor. Ole Miss was held to 22.2 percent shooting, as it fell to the Gamecocks for the eighth-straight time.
South Carolina seized momentum in the game following its 16-3 run to end the second quarter. The Gamecocks held the Rebels to just one field goal over the remaining 9:56 of the period.
South Carolina’s inside scoring dictated much of Thursday’s contest, as the Gamecocks outscored the Rebels in the paint, 40-8, on the night.
- South Carolina’s 44 regular-season SEC wins over the last three seasons are the most during a three-year stretch in league history.
- Thursday marked the sixth time the Gamecocks have scored at least 40 points in the paint in SEC play this season. South Carolina sported a double-digit advantage in the statistical category in each of its last three games.
- The Rebels’ 22.2 shooting percentage was the lowest for a South Carolina opponent this season.
- Senior Asia Dozier tallied a team-high five assists in the win over Ole Miss. It was the fifth time this season the guard led the Gamecocks in assists.
South Carolina concludes regular-season play on Sun., Feb. 28, when it hosts LSU for Senior Day at Colonial Life Arena. The contest, which tips off at 2 p.m., can be seen on ESPNU.