COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – Destanni Henderson had 16 points after three 3-pointers and Zia Cooke scored 13 points as No.…
COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – Destanni Henderson had 16 points after three 3-pointers and Zia Cooke scored 13 points as No. 1 South Carolina withdrew in the second half for its 11th straight win over rival Clemson 76-45 on Wednesday night .
South Carolina’s backcourt tandem got things started in the third quarter after managing just seven field goals the first 20 minutes to lead 27-17.
Cooke played just six minutes in the opening half as she made two quick fouls. But she lit up after the break and led an 18-6 run with a jumper and two 3-pointers to a 45-27 lead that Clemson could not overcome.
South Carolina (3-0) finished with four players in double digits. All-America Aliyan Boston scored 11 points, her first double-digit game this season.
South Carolina has dominated the Tigers (1-2), and has won almost everyone with skewed goals, where they almost came, the last time they played here, 69-57, in November 2018.
However, it took a while for the Gamecocks to get started with Cooke and Boston on the bench with two early errors each.
South Carolina shot just 7 of 22 from the field and had 13 turnovers in the first half – it had only made 22 mistakes combined with its first two wins.
But the Gamecocks significantly locked down the defense in the rivalry game, holding the Tigers to a 0-to-16 shooting in the second quarter. Clemson hit just three fouls in the 10 minutes.
Gabby Elliott had 11 points to lead the Tigers, who fell to 2-16 all the time against No. 1 ranked opponents.
THE BIG PICTURE
Clemson: The Tigers have ambitions to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019, Amanda Butler’s first year as a coach. But they will have to show a sharper attack and much more precision than they had against South Carolina after shooting only 29 percent.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks looked like the country’s No. 1 team in their opening week when they took down, fifth-ranked North Carolina State and South Dakota. South Carolina needs more flow from its bench players, who struggled to strike shots with their leaders in bad trouble. It did not cost Gamecocks here, but could against several high-ranking opponents.
Clemson starts a five-game home game against Penn State on Sunday.
South Carolina begins play at Women’s Battle 4 Atlantis against Buffalo Saturday night.
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