Top-ranked South Carolina (22-1, 10-1) managed to stop a late surge from Kentucky (9-11, 2-8) to win Thursday night, 59-50.
Despite having the program’s second worst day of the season from a points perspective (first was scoring 55 at Duke), the Gamecocks picked up their 10th straight victory and secured a season sweep of the Wildcats, who have dropped eight of their last nine games.
For USC, shooting 39% from the field and 11% from three-point land usually translates to a bad day overall, but that wasn’t exactly the case.
South Carolina had a fantastic day defensively, holding Kentucky to a combined 26 points through three quarters in addition to forcing 18 turnovers, and dominated the glass with 20 offensive rebounds.
The Gamecocks were even up 18 points with 9:45 remaining in the game. The tide began to turn when Aliyah Boston got subbed out of the game midway through the fourth quarter as USC was leading by 17 with the game decided, or so we thought.
Kentucky started to show some life, going on a 17-7 run since that moment being led by Rhyne Howard, who had 16 of her 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Once the lead got trimmed down to as little as seven, head coach Dawn Staley elected to bring her starters back into the game, and it was smooth sailing from there.
Yes, the Gamecocks got the victory, but there are some things that need to be cleaned up, like their 17 turnovers, free throws (they made 10 of 25 from the line), ball movement and being one dimensional offensively – scoring their first basket outside of the paint with 8:28 remaining in the third quarter.
The one standout for South Carolina was, you guessed it, Aliyah Boston, who logged her 16th straight double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
The Gamecocks take the court next this Sunday at noon on the road against No. 17 Georgia.