Carolina’s Frontcourt Shines In 72-52 Win Over No. 14 Duke
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Alexis Jennings had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead No. 5 South Carolina to a 72-52 win over No. 14 Duke on Sunday.
The Gamecocks (8-1) were missing two senior guards because of injuries, and Duke packed it in, hoping to force someone other than All-American A’ja Wilson to beat them.
So when the double teams came, Wilson and her teammates were able to find their quieter frontcourt starter Jennings, and she cleaned up their misses. The junior had eight offensive rebounds.
Wilson also got her shots, scoring 18 points and pulling down 11 rebounds to start a new double-double streak.
The Gamecocks scored 54 of their 72 points in the paint.
The Blue Devils (6-2) kept it close in the first quarter and trailed 21-16 after a 3-point play by Lexie Brown. But after Jennings followed a Wilson miss with a score, Duke never got closer than seven the rest of the way.
South Carolina’s defense also did its job, holding the normally sure-shooting Blue Devils to just 38 percent (22 of 58) from the field, well below their 46 percent average this season. Duke came in eighth in the nation shooting 44 percent on 3-pointers but made just 1 of 10 from behind the arc.
Duke: The Blue Devils starting backcourt of Lexie Brown and Rebecca Greenwell averaged more than 36 points a game coming in. But they combined for only 21 points on Sunday. Duke was able to hang with South Carolina in the first quarter by shooting 46 percent. But then the shots stopped falling. Duke now has five games against lesser opponents to get ready for Atlantic Coast Conference play.
South Carolina: With transfer Lindsey Spann nursing a sprained knee and typical starter Bianca Cuevas-Moore still out with her own knee problems, this seemed like a trap for the Gamecocks. But good shooting and ball movement made this an easier-than-expected win. If the defending national champions get this kind of play most nights, they will be in the mix again in March.
- With her rebound midway through the fourth quarter, Gamecock senior forward A’ja Wilson moved into fifth place on the program’s all-time rebounding list. Her 904 career rebounds sit 52 away from fourth place.
- Sundaymarked the 100th time Wilson scored in double figures in a game for Carolina.
- Both of Alexis Jennings’ double-doubles this season have come against ranked opponents. The redshirt junior forward logged 11 points and 13 rebounds at No. 15/13 Maryland on Nov. 13, before totaling 21 points and 10 boardsSunday.
- The Gamecocks limited Duke to 10.0 percent shooting (1-of-10) from the 3-point lineSunday. The Blue Devils entered the game ranked seventh in NCAA Division I with a mark of 44.0 percent from distance on the year.
On Carolina’s defensive performance Sunday against Duke
“When we give up as many points as we have given up, defense is definitely stressed. We really concentrated on our live ball turnovers and just defending those and not giving up second chance points. I thought we took care of it for the most part.”
Carolina closed the third quarter on a 13-4 run to put the game out of reach and build a 55-37 advantage heading into the final period. The Blue Devils missed six of their final seven shots of the quarter and shot 27.8 percent over the 10-minute stretch.
The Gamecocks had their way down low, netting 54 of their 72 points from inside the paint. Thirty of Carolina’s 38 first-half points came down low.
Carolina returns to action in two days when it plays host to College of Charleston on Tue., Dec. 5. Tipoff from Colonial Life Arena is set for 7 p.m. ET, and the game can be seen on SEC Network+.
Gamecocks Athletics and the Associated Press contributed to this article.