CLEMSON, SC (AP) – Zia Cooke scored 15 points and Aliyah Boston added 12 points and six rebounds for No. 1 South Carolina’s 85-31 win over Clemson on Thursday night.
It was the Gamecocks’ 12th straight win over their rivals.
Five-star freshman Ashlyn Watkins had 14 points, including a fourth-quarter, one-handed dunk that brought the South Carolina bench to its feet in celebration.
The Gamecocks (3-0) used stifling defense and scoring to put away the Tigers (3-1) with a 16-2 run in the opening period to take control.
Clemson had no answers for the defending national champions, who shot 64% through the first 20 minutes while holding their opponent to 7-of-27 from the field and leading 46-16 at halftime.
The highlight for Clemson came early — very early — when Brie Perpignan’s layup put the Tigers up 5-2 less than two minutes in. South Carolina then went on a 16-2 run, scoring seven straight shots to take control.
Cooke slowly came up after one first-quarter collision and went to the bench. But after a few minutes with a muscle release device on her left thigh, she went back in and continued a perfect half (she was 4 of 4), draining a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to end the first quarter.
But the Tigers went cold, missing 16 of their 18 attempts in the second quarter. Clemson finished with the fewest points per game in coach Amanda Butler’s five seasons.
South Carolina, which relies more on stifling defense than accurate outside shooting, had both in this one. The Gamecocks shot 68% in the first 20 minutes and made all five of their 3-pointers.
Even Victaria Saxton, the 6-foot-2 forward known for her inside game, joined the shooting party with her first 3-pointer in three career attempts just before halftime for a 30-point lead.
Cooke, Boston, Bree Beal and Saxton, all starters on last year’s NCAA championship team, sold out in the final quarter with the game well in hand.
- Aliyah Boston moved into the no. 1 spot in the USC record book for consecutive starts (104)
- Gamecocks take the all-time series with 34 wins (34-33)
- With the win, South Carolina secured a spot in the Palmetto Series
- Kierra Fletcher saw her first start as a Gamecock and then went on to score the game’s first bucket
- South Carolina went on a 16-2 run in the first quarter and the defense forced two shot clock violations from the Tigers.
- The offense remained strong, going on a 15-0 run to start the second quarter and a 13-0 run to end the first half
- Victaria Saxton scored her first career hat trick in just her third attempt
- End of the first half: 10 out of 11 players scored Zia Cooke scored 12 points The team went 5-5 for three
- Freshman Ashlyn Watkins scored 10 points in the second half and finished with a season-high and career-high 14 points — including the program’s first-ever dunk.
- South Carolina finished the game on a 15-2 run with 11 scorers and three Gamecocks in double figures: Cooke: 15 Watkins: 14 Aliyah Boston: 12