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Gamecocks shatter NCAA records in first round

South Carolina forward Aliyah Boston shoots the ball during the first half of a first-round...
South Carolina forward Aliyah Boston shoots the ball during the first half of a first-round game against Howard in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Friday, March 18, 2022 in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)(Sean Rayford | AP)
Published: Mar. 18, 2022 at 3:49 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -Gamecocks shatter two NCAA Tournament records to begin the dance. South Carolina dismantled Howard at home, 79-21, to advance to the second round.

The top overall seed set a tournament high-water mark for the fewest points allowed in a half of first or second-round games. South Carolina gave up four total points in the first half, allowing only one made field goal.

And the 21 total points allowed broke another women’s tournament record.

South Carolina’s strength was its size advantage over Howard. The Gamecocks towered over the Bison, creating opportunities to score off the glass. Six of the Gamecocks’ first 12 were second-chance points. Carolina shot only 31% from the field in the first five minutes.

Defense and the ability to push the pace in transition sparked Carolina’s first-quarter offense. On one play, Aliyah Boston stole the rock inside and fed the ball up the floor to a hustling Brea Beal off a turnover. Beal confidently attacked the rim for the hoop and the harm to give the Gamecocks the early 10-0 advantage, with 5:58 to go.

Surprisingly, Boston’s first basket came near the two-minute mark when she buried a mid-range jumper. Her bucket boosted the Gamecock lead to 17-0.

It took Howard more than eight minutes before connecting on its first shot. Iyanna Warren’s layup with 1:29 to play made it 20-2 Carolina. The Gamecocks were still in complete control.

The second quarter featured firepower on the next level. Zia Cooke’s first bucket of the game came on the fast break off a Boston steal. Cooke strolled to the rim for the layup to make it 28-2.

Carolina collectively came out connecting on five of its first seven shots. They opened up on a 10-0 run by the 7:29 mark of the frame. The Gamecocks extended their lead to 32-2 when Howard called a timeout trying to regroup.

The Bison never did.

The Gamecocks kept their foot on the gas. By the fourth quarter, leading 60-8, former Lexington High standout Olivia Thompson made her second field goal of the season, connecting from downtown to start the scoring in the final frame. Thompson scored a season-high six points.

Boston extended her double-double streak to 25 games scoring 10 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

South Carolina plays Miami at home on Sunday for a spot in the Sweet 16.

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