Dawn Staley and her Gamecocks are over the hump when it comes to this season's SEC schedule. After facing five ranked opponents in their last seven conference games, the Gamecocks get a chance to catch their breath in the final three regular season games of the season as they take on the bottom-dwellers of this year's SEC in Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU.
After wrapping up sole possession of the SEC crown, the Gamecocks commenced the championship victory tour with a 66-46 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa Monday night. The Tide, outmatched from the opening tip, never once led throughout the game as South Carolina' undefeated conference record never really faced much doubt.
The Gamecocks welcomed Asia Dozier back to the starting lineup with a 14-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. And then back-to-back threes by Khadijah Sessions and Bianca Cuevas opened the lead up to 12 to 20-8 less than two minutes into the second quarter. The Gamecocks never really looked back after to maintain a 10 + point lead the remainder of the game.
Alaina Coates paced the Gamecocks from there as she finished the first half with 11 points and 8 rebounds. Coates ended with a career high 18 rebounds to go along with 13 points. The Gamecocks were led by A'ja Wilson in the points department to lead all scorers with 16 for the game. She also put together a double-double finishing with 10 rebounds. The two led the charge on the glass for the Gamecocks as they were able to out-rebound the Tide 58-31.
The Gamecocks size kept Alabama's offense out of the paint all night, and forced them to settle for three's. Of which, there wasn't much success. Alabama shot just 3-28 from behind the arc, never able to get much of a offensive flow. South Carolina's suffocating defense held Alabama to single digits in two of the game's quarters.
The Gamecocks improved to 26-1 overall and 14-0 in the SEC with the win. They face Ole Miss on the road Thursday night in Oxford.