No. 4 South Carolina, Boston beat No. 15 Arkansas 104-82
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) On a day South Carolina unveiled a bronze statue of A’ja Wilson, current standout Aliyah Boston shined in a manner not unlike the Gamecocks great.
”The numbers speak for themselves,” coach Dawn Staley said. ”If you look across the board at some of (her) dominating performances, those are A’ja Wilson numbers. Aliyah’s right there.”
Boston had 26 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks to lead the fourth-ranked Gamecocks to a 104-82 victory over No. 15 Arkansas on Monday night.
”I’ve been focused on being more dominant,” Boston said. ”Coach has made me see how dominant I need to be and I can’t slack off.”
That’s what Staley did for Wilson, a three-time All-America who helped the Gamecocks win the NCAA Tournament in 2017. Staley’s guidance is having a similar effect on Boston, the 6-foot-5 sophomore who’s grown into one of the game’s best.
South Carolina (10-1, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) has won its past 24 games against conference foes over the past two seasons.
Boston accomplished her fifth double-double of the season by halftime and the Gamecocks pulled away to win for the 14th time in their past 15 meetings with Arkansas (11-5, 2-4).
”It’s not just her size,” Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said of Boston. ”She’s incredibly skilled and she’s incredibly smart.”
The Razorbacks and Chelsea Dungee were the last league team to defeat South Carolina, winning 95-89 in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals two years ago. The Gamecocks haven’t lost against a league team since including the past four with Arkansas.
Boston’s play was again a big reason why. She had six points, eight rebounds and five blocks in the first quarter as the Gamecocks opened a 28-17 lead.
Behind Dungee, the Razorbacks were able to keep things tight. Dungee had five points in a 9-2 burst that cut into South Carolina’s double-digit lead.
Arkansas trailed 62-59 after Erynn Barnum’s basket late in the third quarter. That’s when South Carolina scored nine straight points to gain control. Boston had a three-point play and another bucket in the run.
Staley said the Gamecocks have grown as the season has continued. The difference, she said, is accepting roles to make everyone better.
”I’m pleased and encouraged that we’re moving to having an identity on defense and moving toward a balance on offense,” Staley said. ”That’s a good place to be.”
Dungee, the SEC’s leading scorer, had 22 points to lead Arkansas.
Brea Beal had 22 points, setting a South Carolina career high in scoring for a second straight game following the 17 points she had in a 106-43 win at Vanderbilt last Thursday night.
Boston, a sophomore, had her 18th career game with double figure points and rebounds.
Arkansas proved difficult to put away, even cutting the Carolina lead to three with 2:41 left in the third. Victaria Saxton pushed the lead back to five with a layup that started a 23-5 South Carolina run, including a 9-0 stretch to close it out and put the game out of reach.
Carolina’s bread and butter continues to be rebounding. The Gamecocks outpaced the Razorbacks on the glass 50-29, marking the third SEC game, and sixth overall this season in which South Carolina finished with a 20+ rebound margin.
- The Gamecocks crossed the century mark for the second game in a row, a feat never accomplished in program history.
- This is the fourth game of the season in which South Carolina scored over 100 points, the most for any Carolina squad since the 1978-79 team did it five times.
- The 104 points scored tonight is the Gamecocks’ second-highest total in SEC play in program history, only behind the 106 points scored last week at Vanderbilt.
- Sophomore Aliyah Boston started off hot with six points, six rebounds and three blocks in the opening five minutes of the contest on her way to a 26-point 16-rebound double-double. She also swatted away six shots and notched three assists.
- Junior Destanni Henderson earned the first double-double of her career with a 14-point 10-assist performance. Henderson scored nine points in the first half but shifted into facilitator mode in the third during which she dished out four of her 10 assists. The 10 assists are also a career high for Henderson.
- Sophomore Brea Beal followed up her career performance on Thursday with another career high, going off for 22 points on Monday. Beal started the game strong with seven points in the first quarter, and really locked in with nine points in the third.
The No. 4/4 Gamecocks (10-1, 5-0 SEC) have a quick turnaround ahead of their next game when No. 22/RV Georgia (12-1, 4-1 SEC) comes to Colonial Life Arena on Thursday. Tipoff for that clash is set for 6:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.
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