basketball

WBB: Gamecocks roast Peacocks

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Bianca Cuevas-Moore brings the ball upcourt during South Carolina's 93-38 win over Saint Peter's Tuesday night at Colonial Life Arena. The third-ranked Gamecocks' next outing is Nov. 27 against No. 4 Louisville in the final game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Women's Challenge.

South Carolina used a hot start to cruise to a dominating 93-38 win over Saint Peter's. All five starters scored in double figures for South Carolina.

It took just nine seconds for the Gamecocks to take a 3-0 lead on a three-pointer by Kaela Davis. A'ja Wilson followed with a layup, and then Samantha Meier made a long jumper for the Peacocks' only bucket during the opening stretch. Bianca Cuevas-Moore, who scored a season-high 11 answered with a three, Allisha Gray added a three-point play, and then Davis converted a transition layup for a 13-2 lead just 3:20 into the game.

Saint Peter's called a timeout, but the onslaught continued. South Carolina led 37-12 after the first quarter, by far its most productive first quarter of the season. In the first three games, South Carolina had scored a total of only 57 points in the first quarter, and low starts have been a problem area for Dawn Staley.

"It was pleasing to see on both sides of the ball," Staley said. "When we have better starts, there's better flow to our game."

The pace slowed slightly in the second quarter, but South Carolina still led 64-21 at halftime. It marked the third-highest scoring half in program history. South Carolina shot 68 percent in the half, and all five starters scored at least eight points.

The defense was equally impressive. Saint Peter's shot less than 30 percent for the game and committed 22 turnovers. South Carolina scored 30 points off those turnovers and held a 44-24 rebounding edge.

Photo Gallery by Paul Collins

Staley began resting her starters in the third quarter, and none played more than 21 minutes. Freshman Mikiah Herbert Harrigan actually played the most, getting 25 minutes of action. Coates led all scorers with 16 points, but saw her double-double streak come to an end. She only had seven rebounds, but only played 19 minutes. Gray had her best all-around game as a Gamecock. She scored 13 points on 4-7 shooting, and had game-highs of eight rebounds and five assists.

Wilson chipped in 14 for the second game in a row, and Herbert Harrigan had nine off the bench. Davis, who struggled with her shot after exploding for 37 at Ohio State, broke out of her slump and scored 14 points on 5-7 shooting with a perfect 4-4 from deep. Although her scoring had dropped off, Davis played well in other areas.

"It's just game-by-game," Davis said. "Whatever needs to be done in that game I'm going to go out and try to do."

South Carolina won its three games this week by an average score of 88-39, but Staley considered it a valuable experience. Playing on three consecutive days was like a crash course on things the Gamecocks needed to work on. Staley identified the starts of games, passing, and shot selection as three things the Gamecocks needed to work on and felt they got valuable experience in those areas.

"It was a good learning experience mentally and physically," Staley said. "We're still working on us. It gave us a great opportunity to work on us."

"They were three games that had a big margin but we weren't perfect," Davis said. "With big games coming up we've got to fine-tune things."

Notes: Earlier Tuesday Coates was named the SEC Co-Player of the Week. ... In the first game of Tuesday's double-header, Hampton beat Maine. Hampton finished the three-game round robin 2-1 (losing to South Carolina), Maine was 1-2 (beating Saint Peter's), and Saint Peter's went winless. ... Talah Hughes led Saint Peter's 11 points. ... South Carolina has four days off before facing Louisville on November 27 in the final game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Women's Challenge.


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