Boston ties SEC mark, No. 1 Gamecocks top Lady Vols 67-53
The Gamecocks close out the regular season home schedule with a 13-0 record
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Aliyah Boston had 16 points and 12 rebounds to match the Southeastern Conference mark of 19 straight double-doubles and No. 1 South Carolina clinched a share of the league title with a 67-53 victory over No. 12 Tennessee.
Boston tied the mark of LSU great Sylvia Fowles accomplished 15 years ago and the Gamecocks (25-1, 13-1 SEC) won their 13th straight to lock up the No. 1 seed in the league tournament in two weeks.
Boston, with her Tennessee orange braids, stole the show with her latest dominant performance. She had eight points and eight rebounds at the half, then hit a driving basket for her 10th point. Three minutes later, Boston collected her own miss for the 10th rebound as the crowd of 18,000-plus cheered.
Tennessee (21-6, 10-4) was still in it, though, down 44-36 after Rae Burrell’s bucket midway through the third quarter.
That’s when Destanni Henderson, honored as a South Carolina senior at her final regular-season home game, rushed up the court for layups on consecutive possessions. Freshman Saniya Rivers stole a pass near midcourt and went in for a layup to put the Gamecocks up 50-38.
The Lady Vols could not respond, losing for the fifth time in eight games since rising to No. 4 in the rankings. Tennessee played its first game without top scorer and rebounder Jordan Horston, who suffered a fractured dislocation of her left elbow in a loss to Alabama this past Thursday.
Horston sat on the bench with her arm in a sling. Burrell led the Lady Vols with 14 points.
Zia Cooke had 12 points and Henderson 11 as the Gamecocks improved to 11-0 this season against ranked opponents.
South Carolina put on a national show with a full house and ESPN’s College GameDay on hand.
The Lady Vols didn’t back down early and Brooklynn Miles’ bucket tied things at 13-all in the first quarter. The Gamecocks then off on a 17-6 run. Henderson got things started with a basket.
Cooke hit a 3-pointer and Boston had a pair of inside baskets. Henderson added another from behind the arc and when Kamilla Cardoso scored, the Gamecocks led 30-19 to the delight of the crowd.
Neither team shot the ball well early. The Lady Vols and Gamecocks combined to go 0-of-15 from the floor to close the half.
- A record-tying crowd of 18,000 fans were in attendance Sunday, the sixth sellout in program history. There has been one sellout in each of the last six seasons and South Carolina easily secured its eighth consecutive season as the national attendance leader.
- South Carolina moves to 11-0 against nationally ranked opponents this season, leading the nation by a wide margin.
- Finishing with 12 rebounds and 16 points, Aliyah Boston’s 50th career double-double was a special one; it is her 19th in a row this season and moved her into a tie for the SEC record previously held by LSU’s Slyvia Fowles. Boston secured it during a big third quarter where she scored eight points and pulled down three rebounds.
- In a battle of the nation’s two best rebounding teams, South Carolina made it look easy on Sunday. The Gamecocks piled up 59 total rebounds and finished with a +21 margin against a Tennessee team that entered the day with an average rebounding margin of +14.6.
- South Carolina set the tone on the glass early in the first quarter, totaling eight offensive rebounds in the first five minutes of action. All five starters had at least one offensive rebound in that span for the Gamecocks.
- For the game, the Gamecocks piled up 31 offensive rebounds, a season high and the most in the Dawn Staley era. Led by Boston’s seven, six other Gamecocks pulled down two or more. Brea Beal matched a career high with six of her own. It was the highest total by a South Carolina team since 2005.
- South Carolina’s defense held Tennessee to its second-lowest scoring game of the season. The Lady Vols shot 32 percent overall and hit just 1-of-10 3-point attempts. It’s the sixth time this season and third game in a row where South Carolina held an opponent to just one make from 3.
- The team broke the game wide open in the third quarter, scoring a game-high 25 points in the period with a blazing pace that Tennessee could not stop. Led by Destanni Henderson and Saniya Rivers, the Gamecocks scored 11 of their 16 total fast break points in the third. On the other end of the court, Tennessee finished without a fast break point, the first Gamecock opponent to finish with zero for a game.
- Henderson made her senior day count, piling up 11 points, seven rebounds, a team-high five assists and played all but one of the 40 minutes of action.
- Rivers stuffed the box score in her 20 minutes of action, scoring seven points with two rebounds, four assists and two steals. Sunday marked her first stretch of back-to-back games with 20 or more minutes played since Dec. 12.
- Kamilla Cardoso made a welcome return to action on Sunday after missing the previous three games. In 19 minutes off the bench, the post had eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks and the team was +14 on the scoreboard in her time on court.
- Checking in with two minutes to play in the first quarter, LeLe Grissett broke the program record for career games played (with 139).
- Seniors Destiny Littleton, Elysa Wesolek, Victaria Saxton and Destanni Henderson were honored prior to the game, along with three of the team’s practice players and two managers.
- ESPN’s College GameDay was on site at a women’s basketball game for the first time in 11 years and just the third time in the show’s history. South Carolina joins UConn and Tennessee as the only women’s programs to host the show.
The final week of the regular season will come on the road for South Carolina, with trips to Texas A&M on Thursday, Feb. 24 and the finale on Sunday at Ole Miss. The opener against the Aggies will air on the SEC Network and the Ole Miss game will be carried on either the SEC Network or ESPN2.