The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
Colonial Life Arena - Columbia, SC

No. 1 Gamecocks smother Clemson with defense, balance

17 days ago
South Carolina Athletics
Photo: South Carolina Athetics

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Destanni Henderson had 16 points off three 3-pointers and Zia Cooke scored 13 points as No. 1 South Carolina pulled away in the second half for its 11th straight win over rival Clemson 76-45 on Wednesday night.

South Carolina's backcourt tandem got things going in the third quarter after managing just seven field goals the first 20 minutes to lead 27-17.

Cooke played only six minutes in the opening half as she picked up two quick fouls. But she lit things up after the break, leading an 18-6 run with a jumper and two 3-pointers for a 45-27 lead Clemson could not overcome.

South Carolina (3-0) finished with four players in double figures. All-America Aliyan Boston scored 11 points, her first game in double digits this season.

South Carolina has dominated the Tigers (1-2), winning almost all by lopsided scores with the closest coming the last time they played here, 69-57, in Nov. 2018.

However, it took a while for the Gamecocks to get going with Cooke and Boston on the bench with two early fouls apiece.

South Carolina shot just 7 of 22 from the field and had 13 first-half turnovers - it had committed just 22 miscues combined its first two victories.

But the Gamecocks locked down considerably on defense in the rivalry game, holding the Tigers to 0-for-16 shooting in the second quarter. Clemson hit just three foul shots over the 10 minutes.

Gabby Elliott had 11 points to lead the Tigers, who fell to 2-16 all-time against No. 1 ranked opponents.

NOTABLE

  • The win is the 11th in a row for South Carolina, extending a win streak that is the longest by either team since the series started in 1976.
  • South Carolina is now 26-7 all-time in home openers, including a 12-2 mark under head coach Dawn Staley that is highlighted by an 11-game win streak.
  • The 7-time national attendance leader (2015-present) put up a strong number on opening night - the announced attendance of 13,363 is the most in the NCAA so far this season.
  • The Gamecock defense held Clemson without a point for the first six minutes of the second quarter, leaning on an imposing lineup that featured 6-foot-4 Laeticia Amihere, 6-foot-7 Kamilla Cardoso and 6-foot-2 Victaria Saxton locking down the paint. The Tigers missed all 16 field goal attempts in the quarter and were outscored 12-3 by the Gamecocks.
  • Along with some work bringing up the ball as a point forward, Amihere led the South Carolina reserves with 10 points and a team-high six rebounds in 25 minutes of action.
  • The Gamecocks made four of their first five 3-point attempts to open the third quarter. The offense scored more points in the first four minutes of the third (18) than it did in each of the entire first (15) or second (12) quarters.
  • Wednesday marked back-to-back games with eight 3-pointers along with a success rate of 40 percent or better. Three Gamecocks hit multiple shots from deep, led by Destanni Henderson's three. South Carolina's starting five accounted for all eight made 3-pointers, converting on just 13 attempts (61.5 percent).
  • After being limited to just seven minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, Zia Cooke sparked the team's big second quarter with 12 of her 13 total points coming in 10-minutes of action.
  • South Carolina finished with a 43-24 advantage in rebounds, including more defensive rebounds (28) than Clemson finished with in total. Five different Gamecocks recorded five or more rebounds in the game.

UP NEXT

The team will have its busiest stretch of the season so far when it travels to Paradise Island, Bahamas for the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament with games Nov. 20-22.

The opening game of the weekend will be against the University at Buffalo on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. The next game will be the Nov. 21 against either Oregon or Oklahoma and, should the team advance, the championship game will be Monday, Nov. 22 at noon on ESPN2.