Gamecock Women Beat St Peter’s, 93-38
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) – Five Gamecocks finished in double-figures for the second-straight night for No. 3/3 South Carolina, which cruised to a 93-38 win over Saint Peter’s Tuesday night in the final game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecock frontcourt duo of senior Alaina Coates and junior A’ja Wilson combined for 30 points and 13 field goals, while junior guard Allisha Gray stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points and eight rebounds to go along with a team-high five assists. The Gamecocks improved to 4-0 following the victory, notching their second win of at least 50 points this season.
Double-digit scoring runs to end the first and second quarters and strong defense at the end of each half keyed Carolina in the victory over the Peacocks. Saint Peter’s, which was held to single-digits in the second and fourth periods, shot 29.6 percent from the floor and attempted just two free throws on the night. Junior guard Kaela Davis knocked down all four of her 3-point attempts and totaled 14 points, while fellow junior Bianca Cuevas-Moore led the defensive effort with a game-high five steals to go along with 11 points.
Three-pointers from Davis and Cuevas-Moore helped the Gamecocks build an 8-2 lead out of the gate, and the advantage was stretched to 13-2 after Gray converted a three-point play from down low. Carolina, which made eight of its first nine field goals of the game, continued its hot shooting from beyond the arc early on. Davis knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in a span of less than 90 seconds, and Gray’s first field goal from deep gave the Gamecocks a 29-12 lead with 2:07 left in the first period. Carolina finished the quarter in style, scoring all of the period’s last 11 points in a run that was capped off by freshman guard Tyasha Harris scoring off a Peacock turnover to give the Gamecocks a 37-12 lead heading into the first break. Her layup was set up by a block from Coates on a 3-point attempt from Saint Peter’s, which went 5-of-18 from the floor in the opening quarter.
Tough defense and interior size allowed the Gamecock advantage to grow in the second quarter. Wilson chipped in seven points in the period, starting with a jumper out of the break to make it 39-12, and her put-back midway through the period pushed the cushion to 48-16. Cuevas-Moore, who totaled four steals in the first half, set up Wilson’s fifth field goal of the game after swiping the ball away and feeding the forward in transition for another easy basket. Another steal from Cuevas-Moore set her up with a layup on the break to make it 56-21 in what was the first of 10-straight points from the Gamecocks to close the half. Coates’ defensive effort again capped off the quarter, as the center stole the ball and raced down the court before laying it in. Wilson and Davis combined for 26 first-half points, and Carolina headed to the locker room in front 64-21.
Coates carried the offense in the early stages of the third quarter, scoring six of Carolina’s first 12 points. Two jumpers from the Irmo, S.C., native made it 70-25, and a nice look inside from Davis led to another bucket down low by Coates. Davis continued to find Coates in the paint, and the two hooked up for another basket to give the Gamecocks a 60-point lead at 78-28 midway through the quarter. A 3-pointer in the corner from Harris three minutes later stopped a 6-0 run from the Peacocks, and Carolina headed to the final quarter leading 85-34.
The Gamecocks held the Peacocks scoreless for the first six minutes of the fourth quarter and stretched their advantage to 90-34 behind a put-back bucket from Mikiah Herbert Harrigan and a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Doniyah Cliney. Saint Peter’s, which was held to 2-of-13 shooting over the final 10 minutes, finished the quarter with just four points.
Carolina shot 56.1 percent from the floor and connected on 10 field goals from beyond the arc. The Gamecocks, who tallied 11 steals on the night, scored 30 points off 22 Saint Peter’s turnovers and boasted a 44-24 rebound advantage. Led by Coates and Wilson, Carolina scored at least 50 points in the paint for the second-straight night.
South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley
On what her team can learn from these last three games
“It was a good learning experience, mentally and physically, for our players to get up to play three games in a row. I know the score was lopsided, but we’re still working on us, so it gave us great opportunities to work on us. (We got) to work on starts of games, passing the ball a little bit more, and work on shots in the flow of our offense. That’s an area we need to get better in, and get better quickly.”
Carolina scored the final 10 points of the first half, boasting a double-digit run for the second-straight quarter. Senior Alaina Coates and Allisha Gray each contributed four points during the run.
The Gamecocks kept the Peacocks off the line, as Saint Peter’s attempted just two free throws in the game. Their two attempts marked a season low for a Carolina opponent.
- South Carolina’s 10 3-pointers on Tuesday were a season high for the Gamecocks.
- The Gamecocks have held an opponent to five points or less in a quarter three times over the last three games. Saint Peter’s and Hampton (Sunday) both scored four points in a quarter, and Maine scored five points in the opening period of Monday’s contest.
- Junior guard Kaela Davis has shot 47.6 percent (10-of-21) from beyond the arc through her first four games.
- Junior Bianca Cuevas-Moore’s five steals matched a career high for the guard. It was the most steals in a game for a Gamecock this season.
South Carolina concludes play at the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge on Sun., Nov. 27, in a neutral contest against No. 4/4 Louisville in Springfield, Mass. The game, which tips off at 1 p.m. ET, will air on ESPN2.