USC women stay perfect in conference play, get 20th win in a row

USC women stay perfect in conference play, get 20th win in a row
South Carolina forward Aliyah Boston (4) grabs a rebound over LSU during first-half action in Columbia, S.C. on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (Source: Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Top-ranked South Carolina earned its 20th win in a row at home on Thursday night.

The Gamecocks (26-1, 13-0 SEC) downed LSU with a final score of 63-48. It was a comfortable end to a night that began with struggles on the offensive side of the ball.

“I knew somebody was going to challenge us in some type of way,” South Carolina women’s head coach Dawn Staley said.

The Gamecocks turned the ball over 13 times in the first half.

LSU outscored South Carolina in the second quarter, 14 to 9, to remain within single digits at the break -- a rarity for Carolina, a team that this season seemingly has the game in hand by halftime.

“I knew we weren’t going to be able to keep up that pace,” Staley added. “LSU plays a different style. Their zone, that matchup zone, really creates problems for us, because it makes you think too much. It makes you hold the ball and do some things that are premeditated instead of just moving the ball and take what they give you.”

“They are really scrappy; I’ll give them that,” senior guard Ty Harris said. “I say it’s more of us not taking care of the ball.”

In the second half, it all changed.

The Gamecocks in the third quarter scored 20 points on 72.7% shooting from the field. South Carolina went on a 12-1 run in that frame to make the lead to 46-31 -- a dominant stretch to eliminate any Tiger upset dreams.

“Good to go through it,” Staley stated. “Hopefully, we got the kinks out to get ready to play Kentucky.”

Harris added: “It just shows we need to fight day in and day out. Anybody can come up and get us.”

The Gamecock bigs owned the interior.

Aliyah Boston and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan combined for eight blocks.

Boston had five and set the program freshman record for blocks in a season in the process. She currently has 75 to date.

“She understands timing,” Staley said. “She understands their patented moves. She does a good job standing between penetrating guards and the basket. She makes them play over her.”

And, Boston broke the mark of former star forward, Alaina Coates. It’s a record Staley did not believe would ever fall.

“We got a lot of basketball, and she was able to do that,” Staley said. “Honestly, we didn’t think that would ever get done. We didn’t say that out loud. But to have a freshman that imposing doesn’t come around every year.”

Speaking of imposing, neither coach intimidated the other during a pleasant exchange in the second quarter. The two came off their respective benches amid a heated battle to share some thoughts near mid-court while remaining on the sideline. So, I happened to ask Staley afterward about what exactly was said.

“You trying to get me fined,” asked Staley. “Nikki said, ‘It’s cold in here.’ I said, ‘when one of these officials make a bad call, you’ll warm up real quick.,’” Staley chuckled.

It was all in good fun.

The win marks South Carolina’s 10th in a row over LSU.

This now brings the total to seven SEC programs in which the Gamecocks hold at least a 10-game win streak over. The other teams include Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt.

STATS

Aliyah Boston: 13 pts, 9 rebounds, 5 blocks

Ty Harris: 10 pts, 6 assists

Mikiah Herbert Harrigan: 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks

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