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Gamecocks Open SEC with Win at Florida
Women's Basketball  . 

Gamecocks Open SEC with Win at Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Te-Hina Paopao scored 17 points, Raven Johnson added 16 and top-ranked South Carolina opened Southeastern Conference play with an 89-66 drubbing of Florida on Thursday night.

Bree Hall added 15 points for the undefeated Gamecocks (13-0), who won for the 55th time in their last 56 games and extended their conference winning streak to 17.

Kamilla Cardoso chipped in 10 points and 15 rebounds for the visitors, who also got eight boards and six blocks from Ashlyn Watkins.

The Gators (9-4) lost their 16th straight in the series. This one was never close.

South Carolina led 21-6 early and was up 17 at the end of the first quarter thanks partly to Paopao hitting all four shots from 3-point range.

Leilani Correa kept Florida in it in the second quarter — almost single-handedly, too. Correa scored 17 consecutive points for the Gators to start the frame, including back-to-back 3s that helped trim down a 17-point lead. She led the way with 27 points on 11 of 20 shooting.

Correa scored 17 of Florida’s 19 points in the second and even outscored the Gamecocks by one. She needed more help but it never came.

Leading scorer Aliyah Matharu, who entered the game averaging 19 points, finished with 10. She missed 15 of her first 16 shots, including nine from 3-point range.

South Carolina ended any thoughts of a comeback when it opened the second half with a 15-0 run, turning a 14-point lead into a laugher. Florida’s Ra Shaya Kyle stopped the spurt with a layup with 6 minutes to play in the period.

It did little to halt the Gamecocks’ momentum.

Gamecock Notables

  • South Carolina improved to 11-5 in SEC openers under Dawn Staley with tonight’s win.
  • South Carolina came out hot, shooting 64.7 percent in the first quarter, including 4-of-4 3-point shooting from Te-Hina Paopao.
  • The Gamecocks’ 32 first-quarter points were their third-highest single-quarter production this season.
  • The Gamecock defense locked up the Gators in the third quarter, not allowing a point in the first four minutes out of halftime.
  • Paopao’s four 3s in the first quarter matched her single-game season high for made 3-pointers.
  • In tying her career high with six blocks tonight, Ashlyn Watkins posted her fifth game of at least four blocks this season. The sophomore turned in a complete game with six points and eight rebounds to go with her defensive effort.
  • Kamilla Cardoso posted her seventh double-double of the season and her second in as many games. Her 15 rebounds were one shy of her career high.
  • After a series of struggles at the free throw line, South Carolina hit 13-of-15 (.867) tonight.
  • Point guard Raven Johnson was another box score filler for the Gamecocks tonight, finishing with 16 points, five assists, one turnover and four steals in her 26 minutes on the court.