Women down South Carolina

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Kate Mastin's tough lay-in with 25 seconds remaining in the second half was enough to propel Alabama to a 74-71 victory over South Carolina at Coleman Coliseum on Sunday afternoon.

The win gives Alabama a 1-0 record to begin SEC play; the first time the Tide has started the conference slate with a victory since the 1997-98 season, when Alabama defeated South Carolina in Columbia, 82-62.

The Tide trailed by as many as 14 points early in the first half, shooting only 36.7 percent from the field. But Carolina's early success wavered down the stretch, allowing Bama to sneak back into the game, as both teams were tied at 31 going into the halftime break.

"We got off to a slow start in the first half and missed too many easy shots," Alabama head coach Rick Moody said. "But we scrambled around and really fought back."

The second half took a similar turn as once again the Gamecocks held the lead for much of the second half, reaching their largest second half advantage of five points near the five minute mark.

That's when Alabama went to work, methodically chipping away at the Carolina lead before finally taking a one point advantage on a Monique Bivens' turnaround jumper as the shot clock expired. Carolina's Olga Gritsaeva nailed two free throws on the Gamecock's next trip down court, but Mastin's shot in the waning seconds sealed the deal for the Tide.

Bivens and Katie Sipe lead the Tide in scoring, each with 16 points. Sipe blistered the nets from behind the arc, knocking down four of her seven three-point attempts (57 percent). Dee Merriweather paced the Tide on the boards, pulling down eight rebounds, including five on the offensive side of the court.

Carolina was lead by Kelly Morrone and Christina Ciocan, who each scored 17 points to pace the Gamecocks. Iva Sliskovic lead Carolina in rebounding, pulling down nine boards.

The Tide will try to their winning ways against another SEC squad on Thursday night as the Ole Miss Rebels travel to Coleman Coliseum for a 7 p.m. game.

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