No. 1 South Carolina wins 12th straight vs. Clemson 85-31

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Zia Cooke scored 15 points and Aliyah Boston added 12 points and six rebounds in No. 1 South Carolina’s 85-31 victory over Clemson on Thursday night.

It was the Gamecocks’ 12th straight win over their rival.

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 smothering defense and on-target shooting 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% in the first 20 minutes while holding their opponent to 7 of 27 from the field to lead 46-16 at the break.

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 took off on a 16-2 run, making seven straight shots to take control.

Things will get a lot tougher for South Carolina next time out when it heads to No. 2 Stanford on Sunday in an early season showdown.

Cooke came up slowly after one first-quarter collision and went to the bench. But after a few minutes with a muscle-loosening device on her left thigh, re-entered and continued her perfect half (she was 4 of 4) as she drained a 3-pointer right before the buzzer to end the first quarter.

South Carolina’s defense was on point throughout. Clemson had won its first three games, shooting nearly 48% from the field and averaging 71 points a game.

But the Tigers went cold and missed 16 of their 18 second-quarter attempts. Clemson finished with the fewest points in a game in coach Amanda Butler’s five seasons.

South Carolina, who rely more on smothering defense than accurate outside shooting, had both in this one. The Gamecocks shot 68% 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 in the shooting party with her first collegiate 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 title winners, sat out the final quarter with the game well in hand.

THE BIG PICTURE

South Carolina: The Gamecocks have come out with a fire so far this season, winning all three games including an 81-56 victory at then-No. 11 Maryland last week, by an average winning margin of 54 points. They’ll need that again if they hope to get past Stanford, which lost to the Gamecocks 65-61 a season ago.

Clemson: The Tigers have lost all four games with rival South Carolina, (the teams didn’t play during the COVID-19 season of 2020-21), by an average margin of 33 points. Clemson will be up against it in the powerhouse ACC this season. The Tigers were picked 12th in the conference’s preseason poll.

UP NEXT

South Carolina: At Stanford on Sunday in a No. 1 vs. 2 matchup.

Clemson: Plays Kansas State on Thursday night at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

___

AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll

Categories: Local Sports, South Carolina Sports, Sports, USC Gamecocks