Top-ranked South Carolina uses strong start to down the Gators on the road

Zia Cooke added 11 points for the Gamecocks (20-1, 8-1 Southeastern Conference), who won their...
Zia Cooke added 11 points for the Gamecocks (20-1, 8-1 Southeastern Conference), who won their 14th in a row against the Gators (15-6, 5-3).(South Carolina Athletics)
Published: Jan. 30, 2022 at 3:27 PM EST
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Top-ranked South Carolina women beat Florida behind Boston

1/30/2022 | Women’s Basketball

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Aliyah Boston had 13 points and a season-high 19 rebounds for her 14th consecutive double-double, and top-ranked South Carolina beat Florida 62-50 on Sunday to extend its winning streak to eight.

Zia Cooke added 11 points for the Gamecocks (20-1, 8-1 Southeastern Conference), who won their 14th in a row against the Gators (15-6, 5-3).

Florida’s five-game winning streak ended in lopsided fashion. This one was essentially over after a dominant first quarter.

South Carolina outscored Florida 19-3 in the opening 10 minutes. It was the Gamecocks’ best first quarter of the season and the third time they have allowed just three points in any period.

The Gators, coming off a one-week layoff, looked timid from the opening tip. They rushed shots, missed open looks and provided little resistance on the defensive end. Florida missed 18 of 19 shots in the opening quarter, including all three from behind the arc. Making matters worse, the Gators were 1 of 4 from the free-throw line.

The Gamecocks were significantly more efficient, shooting 45.5% from the floor and making 7 of 8 from the charity stripe while building a double-digit lead.

Boston was key to the hot start. She had four points, seven boards and an assist in the first to get coach Dawn Staley’s team going on the road.

The Gamecocks extended their lead to 33-13 at the half and were up 45-17 late in the third quarter before the Gators seemingly woke up.

Florida ended the quarter with a 13-3 run and added a three-point play to open the fourth, cutting the huge lead to 48-35. But South Carolina held on down the stretch.

Kiki Smith led the Gators with 22 points. Jordan Merritt had seven points and seven rebounds.

NOTABLE

  • After starting her career at South Carolina 0-4 against Florida, head coach Dawn Staley is now 14-4 against the Gators.
  • Sunday marks the eighth game this season where the Gamecocks did not trail once; three have come in SEC play.
  • Florida missed first 12 shots of the game and finished the first quarter just 1-of-19 overall, 0-3 from 3 and 1-4 at the free throw line. The Gators’ three points are tied for the fewest allowed by Carolina in a quarter this season (4th quarter vs. UConn, 11/22, 2nd quarter vs. Clemson, 11/17).
  • The Gamecocks took advantage of an aggressive Gator defense to draw seven fouls and knocked down 7-of-8 shot at the free throw line in the first quarter. South Carolina ended the game with 26 attempts from the charity stripe, the sixth game this season with 25 or more attempts.
  • The Gators finished the first half 4-of-30 from the field, including just three made shots inside the paint on 17 attempts. Despite all the misses from up close, South Carolina still limited Florida to just two second-chance points in the half and out-rebounded the home side 27-16. Florida’s 13 points in the first half are the fewest allowed by the Gamecocks so far this season.
  • While the team turned the ball over more than Florida in the game (21-11), the Gamecocks still managed a 12-11 advantage in points scored off turnovers.
  • Aliyah Boston reached double-figures for rebounds just a few minutes into the second quarter and ended the game with a season-high 19 rebounds. She also tied her career high with 15 defensive rebounds.
  • Boston moved up to third in program history for career defensive rebounds in SEC play (with 599), sixth in total rebounds (with 912) and extended her program record for consecutive double-doubles to 14 games. She is just the seventh Gamecock in program history to reach 900 career rebounds.
  • As a team, South Carolina doubled up Florida’s rebounding total (56-28). The +28 margin is the second-highest this season and marks the 10th game with a rebound margin of +20 or higher.
  • Laeticia Amihere led the team’s bench scoring with eight points, her third game in a row with eight points. Since returning from a four-game absence, Amihere is averaging seven points per game in a four-game span.
  • Overall, the Gamecock reserves finished with 25 points, marking the third game this week with at least 25 points coming from the bench. That follows a four-game stretch where the bench averaged just 9.2 points per game.

UP NEXT The Gamecocks sandwich in their lone home game over a two-week stretch coming up, hosting Alabama at Colonial Life Arena on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network+. The Crimson Tide entered Sunday’s game against Missouri with a 11-8 record overall and 2-6 mark in SEC play.

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