The South Carolina women's basketball team overcame a slow start and a season-high 29 turnovers to climb within one win of a perfect SEC regular season with a 66-45 victory over Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi on Thursday night. The Gamecocks were again led by A'ja Wilson, whose 16 points on 8-8 shooting, five blocks, four rebounds and three assists may have very well locked up SEC Player of the Year honors for the Columbia native.
Ole Miss, who entered the game at 10-17 overall and last in the SEC with a 2-13 conference record, were stifled all night by the South Carolina defense, which held Ole Miss to 22 percent shooting from the field and forced 23 Rebel turnovers.
Both teams got off to a slow start in the first quarter, combining for 19 turnovers in the first period alone. After a pedestrian opening 10 minutes, South Carolina carried an 18-14 lead into the second where they took control with a dominant 16-5 quarter to push the lead to 34-19 at the half.
Ole Miss opened the second half on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to 36-29, but that would be as close as the huge underdogs would get. South Carolina quickly responded with a 6-0 run of their own and carried a 50-37 lead into the fourth quarter. In the final period, South Carolina's size, strength and skill finally began to wear on Ole Miss and Dawn Staley's crew rode a 16-8 final period to their 15th SEC win of the season and their 30th conference win of the last two years.
Alaina Coates had 11 points and 14 rebounds for her 15th double-double of the year, while Tiffany Mitchell, who came off of the bench for only the fourth time in her career at South Carolina, chipped in 12 points to help pace the Gamecocks' offensive attack.
The Gamecocks, who have already locked up the regular season SEC title and number-one seed in the SEC Tournament, will go for a perfect conference record for the first time in school history on Sunday at the Colonial Life Arena against LSU at 2 p.m. on ESPNU.