Boston leads No. 1 South Carolina past No. 17 Georgia 72-54
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) – Aliyah Boston scored 18 points with 12 rebounds and No. 1 South Carolina coasted after a strong start to beat No. 17 Georgia 72-54 on Sunday.
Boston posted her 18th double-double in 24 games. Destanni Henderson added 15 points for the Gamecocks, who led by 30 points in the first half.
South Carolina (23-1, 11-1 Southeastern Conference) has won 11 consecutive games since losing at Missouri in overtime to open its conference schedule on Dec. 30.
Georgia (17-7, 6-6) suffered its third consecutive loss despite Jenna Staiti’s 15 points and 10 rebounds.
South Carolina, which had to hold on late to win at Kentucky 59-50 on Thursday night, was dominant in another road game against Georgia.
Staiti went to the bench with two fouls midway through the opening period. Soon after Staiti’s exit, teammate Maiury Bates was called for her second foul.
South Carolina immediately seized the advantage, finishing the first period with an 18-2 run, including the final 10 points, for a 29-10 lead.
The Gamecocks attacked with an impressive inside-outside balance. South Carolina was good on each of its four 3-pointers in the first period while also building an advantage near the basket.
South Carolina stretched its lead to 30 points in the second period and led 51-25 at halftime.
Georgia scored the final six points of the third period and the first six points of the final period to pull to within 15 points at 61-46.
South Carolina won easily despite playing without its top two reserves. Forwards Laeticia Amihere and Kamilla Cardoso are competing with their national teams, Canada and Brazil, respectively, in the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 Qualifying Tournament.
Que Morrison, who had 11 points, provided a highlight for Georgia in the third period when she went behind her back for a fancy layup despite being fouled by Henderson. Morrison sank the free throw for the three-point play.
- With the victory, South Carolina now has 15 wins in a row over Georgia. Six of the seven wins all-time in Athens have come in the Dawn Staley era.
- The Gamecocks are 10-0 against nationally ranked opponents after the road win against the #17/14 Bulldogs. In those 10 wins, the team’s average margin of victory is 13.5 points.
- South Carolina erupted for a 25-4 run to close out the first quarter, thanks to a run of seven made baskets in a row to end the period. Destanni Henderson and Zia Cooke each hit a pair of 3s in the run, highlighted by a buzzer-beater from Cooke just a step over half court.
- Incredibly, the team’s offense was even more efficient in the second quarter, hitting 9-of-14 shots to enter the halftime break with a 63 percent effort from the first in the opening 20 minutes. The diversity of the offense was as impressive as the efficiency; six different Gamecocks made two or more baskets in the half, led by four from Henderson. She and Aliyah Boston shared the scoring lead with 10 points apiece.
- Along with her 10 points in the game, Cooke matched a career high with five assists. It is the 11th time in her career leading the team in assists for a game.
- For as good as its offense was, South Carolina’s defense was equally strong, holding Georgia to more turnovers (7) than field goals made (5) in the first quarter. By halftime, the Gamecocks had racked up 25 points scored directly off 13 Georgia turnovers.
- Freshman Sania Feagin took advantage of the absence of Laeticia Amihere and Kamilla Cardoso down in the post to enjoy perhaps her best quarter of the season. The freshman post scored five points with two steals and a rebound in her seven minutes of action in the second quarter.
- With the team’s hot start from the field, rebounds were hard to come by as Boston searched for her 17thconsecutive double-double. After just two first-half rebounds, she pulled down six rebounds in the third quarter to get closer and finally got No. 10 with 3:43 to play in the fourth.
- Georgia is just the second team all season to out-rebound the Gamecocks, finishing with a 37-35 advantage, but the Bulldogs weren’t able to make it hurt. Despite a 14-9 advantage on offensive rebounds, Georgia out-scored South Carolina just 10-9 on second-chance points.
The team wraps up its regular season home schedule next week with two games in Colonial Life Arena. On Thursday, Feb. 17, Auburn comes to Columbia for a 7 p.m. tip on the SEC Network. Sunday, Feb. 20 brings the final home game of the season with Tennessee squaring off in front of a national audience. The Gamecocks welcome ESPN’s College GameDay to campus and switch to a 1 p.m. start time with the broadcast moving to ABC, also a first for the program