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Cooke, Boston lead No. 2 South Carolina past Auburn 77-58
Women's Basketball  . 

Cooke, Boston lead No. 2 South Carolina past Auburn 77-58


AP Sports Writer

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) The South Carolina Gamecocks clearly didn’t come out of the locker room distracted by the big game looming ahead.

Zia Cooke scored all 17 of her points in a dominating first half and Aliyah Boston added 14 points and eight rebounds to lead No. 2 South Carolina over Auburn 77-58 on Thursday night.

The Gamecocks (15-1, 10-0 Southeastern Conference) built a commanding early lead and take a 12-game winning streak into Monday’s visit to No. 3 Connecticut. Reserves got plenty of action in the second half, when the game got a bit closer.

”That was kind of hard to watch,” coach Dawn Staley said, adding that she might have played the starters even more minutes than she intended. That gave her something to improve on after taking a 47-18 lead into halftime.

”We just have to do better,” Staley said. ”We have to play better on both sides of the basketball, but it’s good to get some people in there that haven’t played a whole lot of minutes this year, because they do need game experience.”

Cooke hit three 3-pointers in a 50-second span of the first quarter as the Gamecocks jumped ahead 26-6 over the Tigers (5-12, 0-9). She had 14 points in the quarter, including a bank shot at the buzzer.

”If you look at her stats and her ability to catch and shoot, she’s pretty darn accurate,” Staley said. ”When she gets clean looks like that early in the shot clock, her feet are set, they’re expected 3s and more times than not she’s very efficient with it.

”Yes, I want her to take all open looks.”

Boston made 7 of 8 shots for South Carolina, which shot 49.2% from the floor (31 of 63) despite cooling off considerably in the second half.

Victaria Saxton scored 11 points and Lele Grissett 10 for the Gamecocks. Destanni Henderson dished out nine assists without committing a turnover.

South Carolina made 18 of 31 shots (58.1%) before the half.

Staley didn’t have anybody play more than 25 minutes and nine players logged at least 14.

”She put some subs in. We had some players come in, I didn’t know who they were,” Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. ”They’re very good and they can come at you in so many different ways.”

Honesty Scott-Grayson led Auburn with 15 points. The SEC’s leading rebounder, Unique Thompson, scored 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting and had eight rebounds. Those were eight points and six boards below her season averages.


South Carolina: Won its 26th consecutive SEC regular season game, matching Mississippi State for the fifth longest streak in league history. Has 11 straight wins over the Tigers.

Auburn: Started 2 of 27 from the floor (7.4%) into the second quarter. Finished shooting 23 of 66 (34.8%). Remains winless in SEC games and never put up much of a challenge in this one.

The Gamecocks hit the gas from the tip, opening the game on a 17-3 run and never looking back. Carolina scored the first 10 points of the game with Zia Cooke draining back-to-back 3s for the final six points before an Auburn basket ended the run. Cooke started another run on the next possession with her third 3 of the quarter with Brea Beal and Victaria Saxton buckets in the paint making it 17-3 Gamecocks. 
South Carolina continued its dominance on the glass, outrebounding Auburn 51-29, including a 36-20 edge in defensive rebounds, which helped hold the Tigers to just six second-chance points in the game. 


  • Carolina extended its program-record regular season SEC winning streak to 26 games, the streak dates back to the Jan. 2, 2020, clash against No. 13/13 Kentucky. The win ties Mississippi State for the fifth longest streak in SEC history. 
  • The Gamecocks were lethal in the opening quarter, shooting 64.7 percent from the field, including 60.0 percent from beyond the arc, while holding Auburn to just six points, the fifth single-digit scoring quarter for a South Carolina opponent in SEC play. 
  • Sophomore Zia Cooke could not be stopped in the first quarter, scoring 14 of her game-high 17 in the opening frame, including back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers during Carolina’s game-opening 17-3 run. 
  • Sophomore Aliyah Boston did most of her damage in the third quarter, scoring eight of her 14 points after the break before sitting for the entire fourth quarter. Boston was a force on the glass, as she always is, snagging eight boards.  
  • Junior Victaria Saxton cracked double figures for the third straight game, scoring 11 points to go with her seven rebounds and three steals, tying her career high for swipes.  
  • Senior LeLe Grissett turned things on in the second half, scoring eight of her 10 points after the break. Grissett has tallied double-digit points in two of the last three games.  
  • Junior Destanni Henderson was in the giving spirit on Thursday, dishing out nine assists with zero turnovers to go with her four points and four rebounds.

The No. 2/1 Gamecocks (15-1, 10-0 SEC) step out of conference play for a trip to Storrs, Conn., and a date with the No. 3/5 UConn Huskies on Mon., Feb. 8. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on FS1.   

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