South Carolina routed Hampton 92-38 in its first home game of the season Sunday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena. Alaina Coates scored 28 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead South Carolina.
Unusual scheduling meant that the Gamecocks were playing just their second game of the season Sunday, while the Pirates were playing their fourth game. The rust showed a bit at the beginning of the game. After the Pirates scored first, the Gamecocks went on a 13-0 run. Normally, that would be when they close the door on an inferior opponent, but instead the Gamecocks let up.
Hampton answered with a 12-3 run to pull within three at 18-15 with 90 seconds left in the first quarter. Then South Carolina woke up. A'ja Wilson drew a foul and made both free throws, and a steal by Doniyah Cliney led to a free throw by Bianca Cuevas-Moore at the end of the first quarter. After the early struggles, head coach Dawn Staley had some harsh words for her players during the break.
"She was like 'Get your butts in gear,'" Coates said.
"I was pretty frustrated with our team," Staley said. "We just didn't impose our will on them from a defensive standpoint. I think we lost the first quarter rebounding and that was disgraceful."
Staley's prodding worked, and the second quarter followed the trend set by those final three points. All told, South Carolina went on an 18-0 run to turn the game into a rout. During the run, Hampton turned the ball over five times and South Carolina scored nine points off those turnovers. South Carolina also went 7-8 from the free throw line during the run, as Wilson made a living at the charity stripe. South Carolina led 53-26 at halftime and used a 10-0 run in the third quarter to extend the lead into the thirties. With both teams playing the first of three games in three days, the fourth quarter was turned over to the reserves and South Carolina's lead got as high as 54.
Wilson had a strong bounce-back game after her foul-plagued outing in the season opener at Ohio State. She had just five points, three rebounds, and three blocks in 16 minutes before fouling out in that game. She had 10 points in the first quarter, 20 at halftime, and finished the game a perfect 14-14 from the line. Wilson also had seven rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.
Coates was the star for the Gamecocks, though. She finished one point shy of her career-high and notched the 44th double-double of her career. She shot 12-16 from the field, and 4-7 from the line.
"It feels really good to go from not getting looked at (against Ohio State) to they see I'm going to work and they want me to continue to score," Coates said.
Allisha Gray was the only other Gamecock in double-figure scoring, with 16. Kaela Davis, who scored 37 points against Ohio State, only scored three points Sunday on 1-9 shooting. She did grab seven rebounds and dish out five assists. Mikiah Herbert Harrigan was productive off the bench with eight points, seven rebounds, two assists, and two blocks in only 17 minutes of action.
South Carolina's defense got stronger as the game went on. Hampton's scoring decreased each period, going from 15 to 11 to 8 to 4. South Carolina held Hampton to 24 percent shooting, forced 24 turnovers (leading to 35 points), and outrebounded Hampton 50-36.
Malia Tate-Defreitas was the only Pirate to score in double figures with 10 points. She shot 3-15 from the floor to get there. Monnaz Finney-Smith, the Pirates second-leading scorer, struggled with foul trouble and went scoreless in ten minutes before fouling out.
Notes: The game was the first game of a double-header that was part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Women's Challenge. The second game featured Maine and St. Peter's. The teams continue to play double-headers over the next two days in a round-robin. The event resumes next weekend in Springfield, MA, when South Carolina takes on Louisville. ... South Carolina committed just 12 fouls in the game. Wilson and Davis had four each. ... Wilson's 14-14 free throw shooting was the most attempts without a miss in program history. ... South Carolina returns to the court Monday night at 7 against Maine.