DAYTON, Ohio -In her first trip back to her home state, No. 6 South Carolina freshman Zia Cooke delivered 27 points to lead the Gamecocks (3-0) to a 75-48 win at Dayton in women's basketball action at UD Arena Wednesday night.
In her return to the buckeye state, Cooke posted career highs in points and rebounds with seven, including five on the offensive end. Sophomore Victoria Saxton poured in a season-high 13 points off the bench to go along with six rebounds and three blocks. Senior Mikiah Herbert Harrigan added 10 points and a team-high four blocks. Freshman Brea Beal continued her all-around contributions, reeling in 10 rebounds for the second time in as many games.
After a sluggish opening few minutes where Dayton briefly held a 5-4 lead, Beal evened things up with a free throw, and another one from the charity stripe for freshman Aliyah Boston gave Carolina the lead. A jumper from Herbert Harrigan kick-started a 15-1 run where the senior scored five of her 10 points, and Cooke tallied 10 of her game-high 27 to give the Gamecocks a 22-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Carolina kept the pressure up in the second with junior LeLe Grissett getting on the board with a layup on the first possession of the quarter. The Flyers stopped the bleeding with three quick points from Shakeela Fowler off a jumper and free throw, but back-to-back buckets from Saxton and senior Tyasha Harris squashed any momentum Dayton had gathered. Boston added two more from the paint as the offense kept rolling to a 41-21 halftime lead.
Cooke continued her scoring barrage with the first points of the third. Dayton's Julia Chandler chipped at the Carolina lead with a 3-pointer, but an extended 9-0 run kept the Flyers from gaining any altitude. Cooke added another jumper, Boston poured one in from the paint, redshirt-freshman Laeticia Amihere got on the board with a jumper of her own as Carolina carried a 55-32 lead into the fourth.
Herbert Harrigan opened up the scoring in the fourth with a layup, followed by a pair of free throws from Saxton to keep the lead at 25. The teams traded buckets for most of the fourth with Cooke scoring seven of her points in the final frame as the Gamecocks put the finishing touches on the 75-49 win.
Cooke caught fire early in the game and never looked back, eclipsing her previous career high by 14 points (13 points against Alabama State on Nov. 5). She continued her career night with seven rebounds, topping the four she pulled down against No. 4 Maryland on Nov. 10.
South Carolina smothered Dayton defensively, only allowing the Flyers to shoot 22.2 percent from the field.
- Carolina used its athleticism to its advantage, outscoring Dayton 14-5 on fast break opportunities.
- The Gamecocks dominated the defensive glass rebounds, 34-20, and won the overall rebounding battle 52-42.
- The Garnet and Black shot 50 percent (5-10) from three tonight, the highest percentage of the season.
- South Carolina owned the paint, scoring 36 of its 75 points there to just six for Dayton.