Welch nets first career double-double

Aleighsa Welch recorded her first career double-double, scoring 13 points and snagging 12 rebounds as South Carolina jumped all over Savannah State early and cruised to a 78-47 win Thursday night. Carolina is now 3-0 on the season and hosts rival Clemson Sunday afternoon.

It was over from the tip. Literally.

South Carolina won the tip and Ieasia Walker drained a three from the top of the key 14 seconds into the game and Carolina would not be contested the entire game in a 78-47 win over Savannah State Thursday night at the Colonial Life Arena to improve to 3-0 on the season. Carolina would jump out to a 16-1 lead and led 16-2 before Savannah State scored their first field goal nearly eight and a half minutes into the game. Carolina would battle through some rough stretches throughout the rest of the half before cruising into the locker room with a 40-20 lead as all nine available players scored.

"I think we were just playing undisciplined basketball," Aleighsa Welch said. "That's one thing that we stressed at halftime. We weren't buying into the game plan. We got to a comfortable lead and let things fall apart."

Welch led the way with her first career double-double, finishing with 13 points and 12 rebounds and Ashley Bruner fell just two points shy off a double-double, finishing with eight points and 12 rebounds. Ieasia Walker and Tiffany Mitchell each scored 10 as all five starters scored at least eight points.

When you play a team like Savannah State, it's not about winning or losing, it's about taking care of business and getting younger players extended minutes. That is what happened Thursday night as seven players got at least 20 minutes of action and Khadijah Sessions played 19. The newcomers took advantage of their minutes as Asia Dozier scored 11 points, Wilka Montout has nine, and Sessions scored six. The experience they are gaining now will have to pay dividends when conference play begins.

"They have to play," Staley said. "We're trying to get them more minutes every time out because at one point they are going to be in games in which they need to play. I don't think they're there yet, but they're not where they were a month ago. Slowly we're progressing and they're getting better individually."

For Dozier, it was a case of bouncing back after a poor performance in her first career home game against Elon. Dozier was 0-for-8 in the opener and 0-for-6 behind the arc. Thursday she was 4-of-10 from the floor and 3-for-9 behind the arc.

"It felt real good," Dozier said of getting her shot going. "The coaches and my teammates kept encouraging me to keep shooting the ball. The last game wasn't so great, but my teammates found me when I was open and I was able to get some good looks."

Carolina also dominated on the glass early and often getting multiple shot attempts most of the night. Carolina outrebounded Savannah State 50-26, including a 25-10 advantage on the offensive end. That added to a 19-8 advantage in second chance points and 40 points inside the paint. Bruner and Montout each had five offensive rebounds and Welch had four.

"The rebounding is always a great thing," Staley said. "Any time that we can get 50 rebounds in a game is telling me that we are hustling and paying attention to what we need to do. Being that we did have a height advantage we were supposed to do that."

A scary moment occurred late in the second half when freshman Tiffany Davis crumpled to the floor after injuring her knee going up for a rebound. Davis was helped off the court with what Staley was told was a left knee sprain by Dr. Guy. With Tina Roy out for an extended period of time after an ACL injury over the summer and now Davis out for at least a few days, Carolina is left with nine healthy players if Elem Ibiam is able to return from her minor head injury suffered at the beginning of the week.

"Everybody has to step up," Welch said. "With any injury it just means everybody has to step their game up a notch in practice and in games. We're going to need everybody to do a little bit more for us to get where we want to be."

With the win, Carolina ties last year's squad for the best start in the Dawn Staley era. Carolina will be looking to top that Sunday when they host Clemson at 3:00. Tickets are just $1.

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