COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Tiffany Mitchell scored 18 points to lead No. 2 South Carolina to a much tougher than expected 78-63 win over Elon on Tuesday night.
The Gamecocks (12-0) hadn't trailed at all in their last three games, but Elon (7-3) came out aggressive and led 20-13 early in the second quarter, matching South Carolina's biggest deficit of the year.
That's when Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley put A'ja Wilson back in with two fouls. Last season's freshman of the year in the Southeastern Conference along with Mitchell led their team on an 18-5 run and South Carolina wouldn't trail again.
Alania Coates added 16 points and eight rebounds, and Wilson added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Gamecocks.
Jenifer Rhodes led Elon with 19 points, while Shay Burnett 15 points and seven rebounds.
The Phoenix would tie the game at 41 briefly early in the third quarter. But Mitchell, Wilson and Coates sparked the Gamecocks on a 15-6 run that started with a Mitchell 3-pointer.
South Carolina finally got aggressive inside on the smaller Phoenix, outrebounding Elon 12-4 in the third quarter.
The Gamecocks final answer to Elon's challenge was Tina Roy, who made all three of her shots, all fourth quarter 3-pointers.
Elon kept it close by shooting well and keeping the turnover battle close. The Phoenix shot 44 percent, the best of any South Carolina opponent this season. Elon turned the ball over 17 times, while the Gamecocks had 14 turnovers.
Elon: The Phoenix fell to 0-9 against top 25 teams. ... Elon is 2-2 against South Carolina, but both wins came in 1975. ... Elon has made the semifinals of its conference tournament, but no further the past three seasons.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks won their 40th game in a row at Colonial Life Arena, the second-longest home winning streak in the country. ... South Carolina coach Dawn Staley and Elon coach Charlotte Smith played together for the Charlotte Sting of the WNBA for six years.
Elon travels to West Virginia on Tuesday.
South Carolina hosts Arkansas to begin Southeastern Conference play on Jan. 3