No. 1 Gamecocks stay perfect, top ’Hogs 93-66 at SEC tourney
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Victaria Saxton scored 19 points and Aliyah Boston had her 79th career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds as No. 1 South Carolina improved to 30-0 with a 93-66 victory over Arkansas at the Southeastern Conference tournament on Friday.
The Gamecocks, who’ve won 36 straight, took control early and used their talented, tall lineup to advance to the SEC semifinals Saturday where they’ll play either Mississippi or Texas A&M.
Arkansas (21-12) will now sweat things out until Selection Sunday on March 12, on bubble watch as one of the last four teams out according to the latest projections by ESPN.com.
No such worries for defending national champion South Carolina, the last undefeated who reached 30 wins for the sixth time in the past nine seasons.
South Carolina put this one away early. After Erryn Barnum’s 3-pointer tied things at 7-all, the Gamecocks scored 10 straight points lead by a pair of threes by Brea Beal.
South Carolina closed the second quarter on a 19-9 surge as Boston and Saxton combined for 10 points around the basket.
The Gamecocks, who lead the country in rebounding margin, were at it again against the Razorbacks. South Carolina outrebounded Arkansas 74-17 in a 92-46 victory two months ago. The Gamecocks couldn’t quite reach that same margin this time, but had a healthy control of things down low with 51 boards to Arkansas’ 26.
Kierra Fletcher added 12 points for the Gamecocks. Saxton hit eight of 10 shots in 20 minutes. Boston had a season-high five assists and tied her season best with four of South Carolina’s eight blocks.
Laeticia Amihere scored 16 points, all in the second half, as the Gamecocks poured it on. Kamilla Cardoso had 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
The Gamecocks’ defense bottled up Arkansas’ leading scorer Barnum for a second time this year. She was 3 of 11 for 11 points in the January loss at South Carolina and was 2 of 13 for eight points in this one.
Saylor Poffenberger had 22 points to lead Arkansas.
- The Gamecocks dominated the glass, setting the tone early with a 17-5 advantage in the first quarter, including seven offensive boards.
- The second quarter was all about field goal percentage with the Gamecocks shooting an efficient 52.9 percent to stretch their lead to 15 at halftime.
- The Gamecocks’ dominant front court delivered the damage with Saxton, Boston, Cardoso and Amihere combining for 64.5 percent of South Carolina’s scoring (60 points).,
- Victaria Saxton had a strong outing, posting a season-high 19 points against the Razorbacks, including 12 in the first half. She shot 8-of-10 from the field and a perfect 3-of-3 at the free throw line to lead the team in scoring for the first time this season.
- Laeticia Amihere went off in the second half, putting up a season and SEC career-high tying 16 points, with 12 coming in the final quarter alone.
- Kamilla Cardoso scored in double-digits for the 14th time this season, knocking down eight of her 14 in the fourth quarter, contributing her last six in a 14-7 run by the Gamecocks with less than five minutes to go. Cardoso added on eight boards, three assists and three blocks.
- Kierra Fletcher had her third 10-point game on the year, scoring seven of her 12 in the second quarter, including a three with under 10 seconds left in the first half to give South Carolina a 15-point lead.
- Aliyah Boston was solid on both sides of the ball, putting up her 79th double-double of the season along with five assists, and a team high four blocks.
- Brea Beal led the team in the opening quarter, hitting back-to-back threes to give the Gamecocks their first double-digit lead of the game, all while adding on two assists and a block.