COLUMBIA, S.C. (Univ. of SC Media) – Behind a balanced scoring attack with five players in double figures, No. 1/2 South Carolina collected a 90-26 win over North Carolina Central on Monday night at Colonial Life Arena. Freshman A’ja Wilson led all scorers with 16 points off the bench while also pulling down a game-high eight rebounds for the Gamecocks (6-0). Tiffany Mitchell collected seven steals and Khadijah Sessions doled out eight assists, both career highs.
A'ja Wilson's Technical Free Throw
The points came easily for the Gamecocks in the early stages of the night as they took advantage of their size on the boards and speed in the transition game. Aleighsa Welch opened the scoring on a bucket set up by Mitchell. On the next possession Mitchell was on the receiving end of an outlet pass from Sessions. South Carolina scored the first seven points of the night before Morgan Jones hit a 3 for NC Central.
Aleighsa Welch starts the fast break
South Carolina scored the next 15 points to take a decisive 22-3 lead. In the run, the Gamecocks continued to go to work in the paint, with Alaina Coates, Elem Ibiam, Welch and Mitchell all contributing. With a new lineup on the floor, South Carolina went cold from the field and the Eagles scored three unanswered baskets and soon pulled within 14 after Kristin Askew drained a 3 and Racquel Davis cleaned up a miss. NC Central would not score a basket in the final 5:17 of the first half, though, and Asia Dozier dialed up a 3-pointer from the right wing just before the buzzer to extend the halftime lead to 39-16.
Jatarie White shot block
Joining Wilson in double digits were Mitchell and Dozier with 14 points each; Welch added 11 and Ibiam scored 10. The team worked as a group on the boards, with 13 players grabbing at least one rebound to out-board NC Central 40-23.
South Carolina put the game out of reach early, opening the night with a 22-3 run in the first nine minutes.
The Gamecocks found their rhythm on offense, posting 26 assists on 35 made baskets. South Carolina shot 60.3 percent on the night.
• Led by Tiffany Mitchell’s seven takeaways, South Carolina collected 21 steals as the team forced 28 turnovers that led to 31 points.
• The Gamecocks saw their bench post nearly half of their offensive output with 42 of the total 90 points.
• South Carolina scored 58 points in the paint and out-scored the Eagles 34-0 in transition.
• Kaydra Duckett scored the first basket of her Gamecock career in the final minute of the game.
• Tonight’s win brings the Gamecocks’ home winning streak to 22.
• For the third season in a row, South Carolina has started the season 6-0.
• Head coach Dawn Staley is now just one win away from her 300th career head coaching victory.
South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley
What I really like about A’ja is that she’s a scorer. She looks to score. She’s aggressive, she wants to score and she can score. When you have someone like that coming off the bench, you can exhale a little bit because you know where some of the scoring is going to come from. She’s a great target for us, and she likes to work a lot in the high post area against zones. She can go to the rim strong and she’s deceptive because she’s 6’5” and she can get there with one bounce.
The Gamecocks host Charlotte at Colonial Life Arena on Thu., Dec. 4, at 8 p.m. The contest will be broadcast on the SEC Network.
Bianca Cuevas (Fr)