San Antonio, TX (WIS) - South Carolina wins comfortably to advance to the second round of the Hemisfair Region at the NCAA Tournament in San Antonio, TX. The number one seeded Gamecocks defeat the 16th-seeded Mercer Bears Sunday night, 79-53.
The Gamecock big three power them to victory. Forwards Aliyah Boston, Laeticia Amihere, and Victaria Saxton scored 51 points combined. Boston finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds. Saxton matched a season-high with 20 points.
Mercer challenged Carolina in the first two quarters. A 7-0 Bears run midway thru the second quarter tied the game, 27-27.
It took nearly the entire first half for the Gamecocks to assert their dominance. They eventually would close out the second on a 13-3 run in the final 2:26 of the period to lead by 11 points.
Carolina’s bench provided a significant boost. It was a point of emphasis leading into the tournament due to the absence of senior forward LeLe Grissett due to injury. Amihere and Destiny Littleton combined for 19 first-half points.
Boston, Carolina’s sophomore forward, was a force throughout. She posted a double-double in the first 20 minutes. Boston collected 15 points and ten rebounds to pace the Gamecocks at the break.
The Gamecock guards were relatively quiet. But Zia Cooke found the rhythm in the third quarter. Cooke scored all of her 13 points in the second half.
Carolina struggled a bit in half-court sets, turning it over a total of 17 times. It resulted in 18 Mercer points.
Despite some miscues, the paint belonged to South Carolina, with the Gamecocks scoring 42 inside. They also grabbed 52 rebounds.
This win marks the 500th of Dawn Staley’s college coaching career. So far, 328 of those wins have come in her 13 seasons at South Carolina as the program’s all-time winningest coach.
The story will be updated later tonight.