Gamecocks hold off Miss. St. in top-10 matchup

Gamecocks hold off Miss. St. in top-10 matchup
South Carolina guard Tyasha Harris (52) drops off two points in front of Mississippi State center Promise Taylor (13) during first-half action in Columbia, S.C. on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA) (Source: Travis Bell)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Carolina delivers a championship moment. On Monday night, the top-ranked Gamecocks steal the show in a battle of SEC powers. South Carolina erases a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit, as it edges ninth-ranked Mississippi State, 81-79, on its home floor.

Freshman guard, Zia Cooke, makes a winning move late in the contest. With 6.2 seconds to play, Mississippi State tries to tie the game trailing by two points. The Bulldogs attempt to inbound the ball underneath the Gamecocks bucket. Cooke tracks her opponent to the top of the key. Then, like a cornerback on the gridiron, Cooke turns and leaps to intercept the pass. She dribbles out the clock as the crowd roars.

Four Gamecocks score double-digits in the Gamecocks come from behind win. Carolina’s freshman forward, Aliyah Boston, finishes with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Senior leader, Ty Harris, collects a season-high 23-points, including the go-ahead bucket to make it 80-79, with 2:01 left to play.

Carolina executes its offense at a high level at the jump. Five minutes in and the Gamecocks take a 15-7 advantage. By the end of the opening frame, Carolina enjoys a comfortable 11-point lead over the Bulldogs.

Kiki Herbert Harrigan helps the Gamecocks maintain their edge in the first few minutes of the second quarter. She scores the first nine points for South Carolina. Herbert Harrigan gives the home team its largest lead of the half, 31-19, with 6:31 to play. During this run, Herbert Harrigan becomes the sixth player in program history with 1,000-plus career points and more than 100 career blocks.

The turning point in the contest happens at the 4:48 mark in the quarter. Freshman forward Aliyah Boston picks up her second foul of the game with the Gamecocks in front 35-25. In her absence, the Bulldogs attack the paint and trim Carolina’s lead to one, 43-42, by the half.

Bulldogs pick up where they left off to begin the second half. Jordan Danberry caps off a 21-8 run by scoring four quick points to lift the road squad to a 46-43 lead.

Carolina responds with a 7-0 run to regain control, 50-46, at the 6:38 mark in the third. But, the Bulldogs battle behind 5′7 guard Aliyah Matharu. She scores ten consecutive points for Mississippi State to put momentum back in its favor, 56-54 with under four minutes to go in the frame.

Four ties, along with five lead changes in the third, give way to a 65-62 Bulldogs lead heading into the final 10 minutes.

Bulldogs enter the final frame relentless in their pursuit to top the nation’s number one team. Mississippi State has no problems getting to the rim. The inside game propels the Bulldogs to a 71-62 advantage with 7:59 remaining in the contest. Carolina allows a season-high 54 points in the paint.

The Gamecocks storm back to seize command, momentarily, on the home floor. Freshman guard Zia Cooke displays incredible will on a drive to the hoop. She absorbs contact near the rim and hits the bucket to tie the game, 73-73, at the 4:31 mark. Cooke gives the Gamecocks the lead on the ensuing free throw, 74-73.

The second half features ten lead changes. Trailing 79-78, with 2:01 remaining in the game, Harris sinks the clinching two-point shot.

South Carolina improves to 18-1 overall, 6-0 in SEC play.

Interview with Dawn Staley

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