There wasn’t much time spent feeling secure for Dawn Staley and her fifth ranked Gamecocks, but South Carolina gutted out a three point victory over previously unbeaten Mississippi St 64-61 Monday night inside Colonial Life Arena. A’ja Wilson led all scorers and the way for South Carolina logging 26 points and the game sealing free throws with three seconds left.
Mississippi St. burst out of the gate, opening the game on a a 7-0 run to start the game, but South Carolina tightened it back up before the first quarter ended. The struggle for the Gamecocks continued throughout the second frame though as Mississippi St. forced 11 turnovers in the first half against a team that averages just 13 per game on the year, while dominating the boards on offense.
The Gamecocks entered the break trailing for the first time all year 35-28, but Staley lit a torch under her team in the locker room during halftime as South Carolina came out aggressive on defense and Allisha Gray burst for 8 points to begin the third on back-to-back three point makes. The Gamecocks took the lead and locked down defensively to hold the Bulldogs to just 26 total points during the second frame.
The Bulldogs had three chances to steal the road win over a team that’s now won 31 straight home conference match-ups, but fell short with each attempt. Star guard Victoria Vivians had a chance to tie it up with 18 seconds after getting fouled on a three point attempt, only to miss her third attempt after connecting on the first two. Guard Blair Schaefer then missed on a three to try to tie it up and Vivians missed a short attempt down one which would’ve sealed the win.
The Gamecocks improve to 17-1 with the win and are now the only unbeaten team in conference play. They head back to action Thursday on the road against Georgia.