Cooke leads No. 1 South Carolina in romp over Auburn
The junior guard scored a game-high 20 points in the win
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Aliyah Boston had 10 points and 12 rebounds for her 18th straight double-double, Zia Cooke scored 20 points and No. 1 South Carolina won its 12th straight with a 75-37 victory over Auburn on Thursday night.
Boston moved within a game of the Southeastern Conference mark of 19 straight games with double-figure points and rebounds that was set in 2006 by LSU great Sylvia Fowles.
South Carolina (24-1, 12-1 SEC) took a 10-point lead in the first eight minutes, and Auburn (9-15, 1-12) could not catch up. The Gamecocks won their 12th straight in the series.
Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley was miffed this week, saying other players who are considered candidates for national college player of the year were often talked about on national broadcasts, but not Boston – some even during South Carolina telecasts.
That wasn’t the case with the crowd in this one, who tracked Boston’s every touch against the Tigers.
Boston had seven points and nine boards by halftime and quickly took care of things in the third quarter, collecting her 10th board to keep a possession alive, then draining a 3-pointer for her 10th point.
Boston came out of the game a couple of minutes later after two more boards and did not return. It was her 49th career double-double.
South Carolina built the lead to 35 points in the closing moments.
Cooke, who along with Boston was part of South Carolina’s No. 1 recruiting class three years ago, reached 20 points for the third time this season and first in 15 games since a win over Maryland on Dec. 12.
Aicha Coulibaly led Auburn with nine points, half her season’s average, on 4-of-18 shooting. Coulibaly also had nine rebounds.
- Zia Cooke enjoyed another hot start to the game, hitting her first three shots for a personal 7-0 run that gave the team an early 9-2 lead. It comes on the tails of an eight-point effort in the first quarter at Georgia last Sunday. Cooke ended with nine of her team-high 20 points in the first quarter; it is the junior’s third 20-point game of the season, the last coming against Maryland on Dec. 12.
- The team used a 17-0 run that spanned the end of the second quarter into the first five minutes of the third to break the game open. Five different players scored during the run.
- The Gamecocks ruled the boards, pulling down 62 rebounds (24 offensive). The last game with 60 or more rebounds against a SEC foe was against Vanderbilt on Jan. 14, 2021. The 24 offensive rebounds are the second most in a game so far this season and it’s the fifth time the team finished with 20 or more offensive rebounds in a game this season.
- The final rebounding margin was 62-25 for the Gamecocks. The +37 finish is the second-widest margin of the Dawn Staley era, behind only the +45 effort against the College of Charleston on Nov. 25, 2020. It was a group effort as well; outside of Aliyah Boston’s 12 rebounds, no other Gamecock had more than eight and six had five or more.
- With the game in hand early, the bench logged major minutes. Cooke’s 23 minutes played were the most by any of the Gamecock starting five and six different reserves had 10 minutes or more on the court.
- Destiny Littleton led the bench with eight points in 10 minutes, knocking down a pair of 3s and swiping a pair of steals. It’s the senior’s fourth game with multiple 3s made and her highest point total in SEC play this season.
- Laeticia Amihere gave South Carolina a big boost defensively off the bench, leading the team with three blocks to go with six rebounds in just 11 minutes. It’s her first action since missing last week’s two games while competing with Team Canada at the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.
- Auburn’s 38 points are the second fewest allowed by South Carolina so far this season. Nine Gamecock opponents have failed to reach 50 points in a game, three in SEC play. Thursday night was the 10th time this season a Gamecock opponent shot under 30 percent from the floor and sixth time in SEC play.
- Aliyah Boston reached her 18th-consecutive double-double in just 20 minutes of playing time, scrambling for an offensive rebound and knocking down a 3-pointer with 8:42 to play in the third quarter to reach 10 points.
- Boston is tied with Oregon’s Jillian Alleyne for the longest double-double streak in the nation since 2014 and is one away from tying Sylvia Fowles of LSU for the SEC’s longest streak.
Sunday, Feb. 20 brings the final home game of the season with Tennessee coming to Columbia for a national audience. The Gamecocks welcome ESPN’s College GameDay to campus and switch to a 1 p.m. start time with the broadcast moving to ABC. Follow @GamecockWBB on social media and GamecocksOnline.com for information and updates on the weekend’s events.