NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tiffany Mitchell scored a season-high 22 points and second-ranked South Carolina preserved its perfect start by holding off Vanderbilt 71-61 on Thursday night.
The Gamecocks (14-0, 2-0) won their seventh straight against Vanderbilt, keeping them just one of three undefeated Division I women's teams in the nation along with top-ranked Connecticut and No. 4 Texas.
But beating Vanderbilt (11-4, 0-2) in Memorial Gym is never easy with the Gamecocks winning their last three visits by an average of four points. These Commodores just snapped a 10-game winning streak in their SEC opener losing 55-52 at Mississippi.
A'ja Wilson, the Gamecocks' leading scorer and fourth in the SEC averaging 17.2 points per game, had a season-low four points. Tina Roy added 13 points, Alaina Coates scored 11 and had 10 rebounds. Khadijah Sessions had 10.
Rebekah Dahlman led Vanderbilt with 14 points.
South Carolina led by seven late in the first quarter. That was the Gamecocks' biggest lead until the final minute of a game where Vandy was up by six in a game featuring eight ties and 18 lead changes.
Vanderbilt last led 42-41 with 1:51 left in the third on a layup by Jasmine Jenkins. Roy hit a 3 to put South Carolina back up, and the Commodores managed to only tie it one more time at 46. Roy hit another 3, and Vanderbilt couldn't get closer than a point in the fourth quarter.
Marqu'es Webb converted a three-point play with 2:22 left to pull Vandy within 64-61. Sessions hit a 3 for South Carolina, and Vandy didn't score again as the Gamecocks finished the game on a 14-5 run.
South Carolina came in with a decided size advantage with 6-foot-5 Wilson the tallest player on the court with teammates Coates and forward Jatarie White both 6-4. Vanderbilt has only one player taller than 6-1, and 6-4 center Kendall Shaw comes off the bench. She did score a season-high nine points.
Vanderbilt didn't back down, repeatedly driving to the basket for layups and outrebounding the taller Gamecocks. South Carolina finished with a 30-29 edge on the boards.
South Carolina: Redshirt freshman Doniyah Cliney made her season debut against Vanderbilt. She had surgery on her right hand in early November and had the cast removed Dec. 17. Cliney wasn't cleared to practice until this week. She played five minutes and scored two points.. ... The Gamecocks opened SEC play winning their first two games for the third straight season and sixth time under coach Dawn Staley. ... South Carolina now is 31-3 in SEC play since 2013-14.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores came in as the SEC's best and eighth in the nation shooting 48.8 percent. They also rank 12th nationally shooting 38.7 percent from 3. ... They also lead the SEC allowing only 50.5 points per game. ... They wore their new gray uniforms for the first time.
AT THE LINE: Vanderbilt had been shooting only 64.2 percent at the free throw line the past eight games. The Commodores hit 13 of 15 compared to the Gamecocks who went 11 of 23 at the line.
South Carolina: Host Missouri on Sunday.
Vanderbilt: Visit Alabama on Sunday.