Boston leads No. 1 South Carolina to 69-40 win over Ole Miss
The Gamecocks secured their ninth win of the season over a ranked opponent
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Aliyah Boston is not sure she’s doing anything special, other than helping No. 1 South Carolina win. She might be the only one who sees it that way.
”I think the crowd is double-double watching,” Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley said with a laugh.
Boston finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds for her 13th straight double-double, and No. 1 South Carolina defeated No. 24 Mississippi 69-40 on Thursday night.
The Gamecocks (19-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) were scheduled for their yearly contest with No. 10 UConn. But with South Carolina a game behind SEC leader Tennessee, Staley called off the non-conference game to face the Rebels (17-3, 5-2) in a contest postponed due to COVID-19 earlier this month.
Staley got just what she needed from her team, especially her 6-foot-5 All-American. Boston reached 20 points for the first time in 11 games and came out on top in the showdown with Rebels star Shakira Austin.
The double-double streak is the already the longest in South Carolina history, with even WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson, attending the game, in awe of Boston’s play.
”She’s just killing it in her own fashion,” Wilson said.
For South Carolina’s junior star, she believes she’s only doing what’s necessary to win.
”I kind of push it aside,” Boston said of the streak. ”If it happens, it happens. If I focus on one thing it won’t happen, so I just focus on winning.”
Boston had 15 points and four boards by the half. She was sitting on nine rebounds entering the final quarter when she grabbed Lashonda Monk’s missed layup for No. 10 to continue a streak that began Nov. 29 in a win over North Carolina A&T.
Boston was in the thick of things, as usual, with a couple of early baskets including a strong drive from the left side as the Gamecocks went up 12-4. They pushed the edge to 33-17 three minutes before the half as Boston set up down low, caught a slick feed from Victaria Saxton and powered through a double-team for a basket and a three-point play.
In the Austin-Boston showdown, it was Boston in a runaway. Austin, also 6-5, struggled to find space to shoot much of the game as the Rebels lost their 14th straight to South Carolina.
The Ole Miss senior led her team with 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting.
The Rebels shot just 27.6 percent, a season low, and were outrebounded 47-33.
”It was embarrassing to say the least,” Ole Miss coach Yolett McPhee-McCain said.
- South Carolina now has nine wins over ranked opponents this season, leading the nation in that category by three games over the next closest team. The Gamecocks have won their nine games by an average of 13.0 points.
- Before a miss with 52 seconds to play in the third quarter Aliyah Boston ran her streak for made free throws in a row to 23. The run dated back to the fourth quarter of the team’s win at No. 13/16 LSU. Her 12 makes in the win surpasses her previous high of 10 against Georgia in the SEC Tournament last March.
- As a team, South Carolina finished 24-of-30 from the free throw line, a new season high. The previous high was 19, against Mississippi State and Oregon.
- Boston finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds for her 13th consecutive double-double, putting her only behind LSU’s Sylvia Fowles (19 straight) for the most in a row by a SEC player in the last 20 years.
- Thursday night was Boston’s fifth game scoring 20 or more points this season and 13th time in her career. Her 10 defensive rebounds moves her up to fourth in program history for a career.
- South Carolina held Ole Miss to a 27.6 shooting percentage for the game, marking the fourth game in a row where the Gamecock defense held an opponent under 30 percent shooting in a game.
- It was a group effort on the glass, as seven different Gamecocks pulled down three or more rebounds in the game for a final margin of 47-33.
- Ole Miss entered the game averaging a SEC-best 20.6 turnovers per game, but forced just nine from South Carolina. It is the first time this season that the Rebels turned the ball over more than their opponent, losing the turnover battle 13-9.
- The Gamecocks were able to break the Rebels’ press defense with 16 fast-break points, which is tied for a season high.
- The depth of the roster was able to show off in the win, as 10 Gamecocks entered from off the bench and totaled 25 points. Leading that charge was Laeticia Amihere, who was a perfect 4-of-4 from the field for eight points in the fourth quarter alone.
- Saniya Rivers earned 20 minutes of action off the bench and was hard to keep off the court, totaling five points, four rebounds, two steals and a block.
- Lele Grissett moved into the program’s top 10 for most games played in a career, now with 133, after totaling five points in 18 minutes of action.
The team wraps up a three-game week when it travels to Gainesville for a noon tip at Florida on Sunday, Jan. 30. The Gators are 15-5 overall and are coming off an upset of No. 12 LSU at home on Sunday, Jan. 23. That marked the team’s fifth win in a row, with three of those victories coming against nationally ranked opponents.