COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Tyasha Harris and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan scored 16 points apiece on Monday night and No. 19 South Carolina defeated No. 25 Missouri 79-65 in a game that started with both teams gathering at midcourt to defuse any lingering tension from a testy game last season.
A minor scuffle broke out during the game last February and afterward a Missouri player said South Carolina fans spit on the Tigers. Missouri's athletic director Jim Sterk said racial epithets were directed at the Tigers and said South Carolina coach Dawn Staley promoted the atmosphere.
Sterk was fined by the Southeastern Conference and Staley sued for defamation. Sterk apologized and Staley received an out-of-court settlement.
Leading up to the game, Staley and Missouri coach Robin Pingeton downplayed the past and said the focus should be on the battle for second place in the SEC. The players and coaches circled midcourt and held hands during the national anthem, though the teams didn't intermingle.
There was one minor incident in this game Missouri never led and was down by double-figures from late in the second quarter.
A personal foul was called on Missouri's Sophie Cunningham with 2:39 left in the third quarter. She was defending South Carolina's Lele Grissett on the low block and Missouri's Akira Levy doubled down on Grissett, grabbing for the ball as the whistle blew and both were given questionable technical fouls. At that point, the Gamecocks were up 57-44. The lead reached 24 in the fourth quarter.
Bianca Cuevas-Moore and Alexis Jennings added 14 points for South Carolina (13-5, 5-1).