Gamecocks go to 5-0 in SEC, Top LSU 84-61
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BATON ROUGE, La. (USC SID) – A season-best showing from the free throw line and 20-point outings from senior center Alaina Coates and junior guard Allisha Gray delivered No. 5/5 South Carolina an 84-61 victory over LSU Sunday afternoon at the Maravich Center. Coates led all scorers with a game-high 24 points, while Gray posted a great all-around game, tallying 21 points, three blocks and two steals. The Gamecocks moved to 15-1 overall and 5-0 in SEC play with the win, and the Lady Tigers fell to 14-4 and 3-2 in conference action.
Carolina finished the game 21-of-26 from the line to shoot a season-high 80.8 percent from the charity stripe. Coates connected on eight of her 10 free throws, and Gray went 7-of-8 from the line and scored seven of her 21 points in the third quarter. Gamecock junior guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore netted 17 points and made two 3-pointers to reach double figures for the second-straight game, and Coates added a game-high 11 rebounds to notch her 11th double-double of the season.
Led by Coates and Cuevas-Moore, Carolina withstood a hot shooting start from the Lady Tigers in a back-and-forth opening five minutes of the contest. LSU connected on its first five field goals, while the Gamecocks produced four of their first six points from the free throw line. A pair of shots from the line by Coates gave Carolina its first lead at 6-4 with 7:55 left in the first period, and a 3-pointer from Cuevas-Moore made it 9-8 Carolina. Another jumper from Cuevas-Moore evened the score at 11 before Gray found Coates on the run to set up a layup and three-point play for the center. The scoring play pushed the Gamecock lead to 14-11, and a free throw from Coates and two more from Cuevas-Moore kept the lead at three at 17-14 with 3:43 to play in the quarter. The three points marked the start of a 13-4 Carolina run that established a nine-point lead at the end of the period. Gray’s first 3-pointer of the afternoon made it 20-16, and a block from the junior guard 41 seconds later led to another layup in transition from Cuevas-Moore to press the advantage to 24-16 with just under two minutes remaining. The swat resulted in one of seven LSU first-quarter turnovers, and the Gamecocks headed to the first break with a 27-18 lead. Coates and Cuevas-Moore score 15 of Carolina’s first 17 points of the contest and combined for 17 first-quarter points.
Another 3-pointer from Gray extended the Carolina advantage to double-digits at 30-20 one minute into the second quarter before Coates continued to do damage down low. Back-to-back layups from the senior made it 36-26, and two more free throws from her kept the Gamecocks in front by 10 at 38-28 midway through the period. Coates spent much of her time at the line in the first half and converted six of her first seven free throw attempts. The Gamecocks opened the game 13-of-15 from the line, and hit 18 of their 23 free throw attempts in the first 20 minutes of the contest. Carolina’s defense paid more dividends down the stretch of the quarter for a Gamecock team that totaled 15 points off 11 LSU turnovers through the first two quarters. A steal by Tyasha Harris set the freshman guard up for a jumper to push the cushion to 41-30 with 2:45 left in the half, and a theft by Gray positioned Cuevas-Moore for another easy layup on the break that made it 48-34 late in the quarter. Cuevas-Moore finished the half in double figures with 12, while Coates led all scorers with 18 points on eight free throws and five field goals. The Lady Tigers tallied just one free throw and one 3-pointer in the half, and Carolina headed to the locker room leading 49-36.
The Gamecocks maintained their 13-point lead through five minutes of the third quarter, with the Carolina backcourt carrying the offensive load. A nice entry pass from Cuevas-Moore led to an uncontested layup by Gray to make it 51-38 with 7:49 left in the period, and junior guard Kaela Davis’ first field goal of the game gave the Gamecocks a 53-40 advantage 44 seconds later. Carolina’s guards remained the team’s source of offense, and the backcourt tallied all 15 of the Gamecocks’ points in the quarter. Two shots from the line by Gray followed by a 3-point play from the junior made it 60-44 Gamecocks with 2:57 to play in the period. Cuevas-Moore and sophomore guard Doniyah Cliney each registered a field goal in the final 2:13 of the quarter to send Carolina into the final quarter with a 64-49 lead.
Carolina’s offense ran through Coates to start the fourth quarter, and three layups from the Irmo, S.C., native gave the Gamecocks their largest lead of the game at 70-52 with 7:36 remaining in the contest. Coates scored each of Carolina first six points of the quarter, and her first field goal of the period gave the center her third 20-point game of the season. Another layup from Coates made it 77-52, and a tough turn-around jumper from Davis grew the lead to 79-52 with 4:47 left to play. The basket capped off a 13-0 run for the Gamecocks, who held the Tigers to 12 points in the final period. LSU went just 3-of-13 from the floor over the last 10 minutes, and Carolina maintained its sizeable margin the rest of the way.
The Gamecocks scored 20 points off 18 LSU turnovers and shot 56.9 percent from the floor, including 60.0 percent in the second half. Carolina boasted a slight 31-30 advantage on the glass and totaled four of the game’s five blocks.
The Gamecocks headed to the first break with momentum after closing the first quarter on a 13-4 to grab a 27-18 lead. Five Carolina players netted points during the stretch.
The Carolina defense clamped down in the second half and held the Lady Tigers to just 27.3 percent shooting over the final 20 minutes. LSU shot 62.9 percent from the floor in the first half.
- Carolina’s 27-straight victories against SEC teams (regular season and conference tournament included) is tied with Tennessee for the longest winning streak in league history.
- Sunday marked the third time this season the Gamecocks boasted multiple 20-point performers in a game.
- Carolina junior guard Allisha Gray became the second Gamecock to finish a game this season with at least 20 points and three blocks. Forward A’ja Wilson has accomplished the feat twice this season.
- Gamecock junior Bianca Cuevas-Moore has shot 60.0 from the 3-point line through five SEC games this season. The guard has averaged 14.6 points against conference foes on the year.
Carolina’s SEC schedule continues with a home game against Ole Miss on Thu., Jan. 19 at Colonial Life Arena. Tipoff between the Gamecocks and Rebels is set for 7 p.m., and the game will air on SEC Network.