COLUMBIA, S.C. (Univ. of SC Media) – No. 2/3 South Carolina used defense to get its offense going early in a 99-41 win over Clemson at Colonial Life Arena in front of 11,012 fans tonight. The Gamecocks (2-0) hit 8-of-15 from 3-point range to help loosen the interior defense, which led to 46 points in the paint, in the most lop-sided victory in the history of the in-state rivalry. Six Gamecocks scored in double figures, led by A’ja Wilson’s 18 points, and Alaina Coates posted her second double-double in as many games.
The Tigers were on the scoreboard early, but the Gamecocks’ offense got on track three minutes into the game with a Tiffany Mitchell 3-pointer that sparked at 19-3 run. South Carolina forced five Clemson turnovers in the spurt and turned them into easy points on the other end. Four different Gamecocks scored during the run with Khadijah Sessions burying a 3, Wilson hitting a pair of inside buckets, Aleighsa Welch putting in a transition layup and Bianca Cuevas hitting a jumper to cap the surge and put the Gamecocks up 19-7 with 11:09 to go in the half.
With the Gamecocks dominating the glass and the outside game clicking, the lead stretched to 45-21 by halftime with Wilson leading the way with 10 points for South Carolina.
The second half opened much like the first with Mitchell draining a 3-pointer that kicked off a 22-6 run that put the game out of reach for the Tigers. Coates was especially aggressive in the second half, scoring 10 of her 12 points and seven of her 10 rebounds in the period. Freshman Jatarie White also played well in the final stanz, netting nine of her 11 points in her nine minutes during the half.
South Carolina shot 52.8 percent from the field, including 53.3 percent from 3-point range. Six Gamecocks finished in double figures – Wilson 18, Welch 17, Mitchell 15, Coates 12 and White 11.
The Gamecock defense forced three straight turnovers early to generate easy offense and launch a 19-3 run after the Tigers scored the first two baskets of the game. By the end of the half, South Carolina had scored 15 points off 10 Clemson turnovers.
South Carolina committed just seven turnovers, a key change from the 19 against Southern Cal in the season opener.
· The Gamecocks’ 99 points tied the Dawn Staley-era record (vs. Ole Miss, 1/30/14; vs. Charleston Southern, 11/9/13).
· South Carolina held a 50-28 advantage on the glass, including 23 offensive boards.
· The Gamecocks’ 25 assists tied the Staley-era record (vs. Alabama, 1/19/14; vs. Charleston Southern, 11/8/13).
· The 58-point victory was the second largest of the Staley era, falling short of the Gamecocks’ 99-29 win over Charleston Southern in last season’s opener.
· The previous largest margin of victory for the Gamecocks over the Tigers was an 89-55 decision on March 1, 1980. South Carolina was ranked No. 7 in that game, while Clemson held the No. 16 spot in the nation.
South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley on the crowd support -
It’s incredible. I appreciate everyone that comes out to watch us play. They create an environment which student-athletes are supposed to experience. They create an atmosphere in which our players can play to the best of their abilities. They create a home-court advantage for us. And people know, when you come to Colonial Life Arena or watch it at home on television, it’s an exciting environment. That’s what college athletics is all about, and I’m so happy I’m here to witness it for our players.
South Carolina closes out a three-game home stand on Sun., Nov. 23, hosting San Diego State at Colonial Life Arena at 2 p.m.
Elam Ibiam wins jump ball