basketball

WBB: Gamecocks collect 70-30 win at Savannah State

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Allisha Gray lines up a free throw during a recent USC contest. Gray finished with 12 points Wednesday night in South Carolina's 70-30 victory over Savannah State.

No. 6/6 South Carolina closed its pre-holiday slate with a 70-30 road win over Savannah State Wednesday night behind a strong defensive showing and a combined 30 points from juniors A’ja Wilson and Allisha Gray.

Wilson led all scorers with 18 points, while Gray chipped in 12 and boasted a game-high five steals to lead the defensive charge. The Gamecocks improved to 10-1 with the victory, while the Lady Tigers dropped to 2-9 following the loss.

Freshman Tyasha Harris marked the other Gamecock in double-figures, as the guard matched a career high with 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Carolina held Savannah State to single digits in three of the four quarters Wednesday, and the Lady Tigers shot just 21.6 percent from the floor for the game.

Wilson and Gray reached double figures by the half, and the Gamecocks boasted a 39-12 lead through 20 minutes. Senior center Alaina Coates and sophomore forward Doniyah Cliney collected a game-high seven boards for Carolina, which ended the contest with a 50-25 advantage on the glass. Junior guards Kaela Davis and Bianca Cuevas-Moore totaled two steals each to join Gray as the other players to record multiple steals. Carolina sported 12 steals in the game and scored 21 points off 16 Savannah State turnovers.

The Gamecocks got out of the gate quickly, hitting their first three shots of the game on an Wilson jumper from the high point, a deep three from Cuevas-Moore at the end of the shot clock and a pullup jumper from Gray on the right baseline. A 3-pointer from Savannah State’s Kenyata Hendrix eased the wave, but South Carolina struck back quickly with an inside bucket by Wilson.

After the Lady Tigers struggled to find their range on the offensive end in the opening minutes, they suffered a flurry of Gamecock steals down the stretch of the first quarter. Gray alone doubled her career high in the first half alone with four of the team’s nine swipes in the opening half.

With a 19-7 lead after the first quarter, the Gamecocks opened the second with 11 straight points and closed it on a 9-3 run that sent them into the locker room up 39-12. Wilson and Davis scored all nine of the Gamecocks’ final points in the period.

The Gamecocks outscored the Lady Tigers 21-11 in the third period to push their lead to 60-23, and Carolina’s lockdown defense continued to give Savannah State fits throughout the remainder of the contest. The Lady Tigers scored just seven points in the final quarter and ended the night 3-of-15 from the 3-point line.

Carolina recorded 19 assists and shot 48.4 percent from the field in the victory. The Gamecocks held a 6-1 advantage in blocks and held the Lady Tigers to just five free throw attempts on the night.

South Carolina returns to Colonial Life Arena on Sun., Jan. 1, to open SEC play against Alabama. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. with the game airing live on ESPN2.

FROM USC MEDIA RELATIONS

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