The No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks used a 16-3 fourth quarter to walk away with a comfortable 73-57 victory over the No. 2 UConn Huskies on Monday at Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
With the win, South Carolina (6-0, 0-0 SEC) clinched the Battle 4 Atlantis crown and maintained its spot atop the national rankings, whose release has been delayed until Tuesday.
The Gamecocks opened the fourth with baskets from Kamilla Cardoso, Destanni Henderson and Aliyah Boston, giving them a nine-point lead. Destiny Littleton then answered an Evina Westbrook three with a trey of her own to push the lead back to nine. South Carolina could not have executed better from there, not allowing this one to go down to the wire with Henderson free throws, a Henderson three and a Boston inside make to seal the deal.
It was the big three of South Carolina getting the job done. Boston led the way with 22 points and 15 rebounds, while Henderson notched 15 points, six assists and six steals and Zia Cooke went off for 17 points. Paige Bueckers scored 19 points to go along with seven assists and five boards in defeat. Westbrook finished with 14 points and three helpers, while Olivia Nelson-Ododa added five blocks and four helpers for the Huskies (3-1, 0-0 Big East).
A 5-0 individual run by Boston early in the third gave South Carolina the lead and led to some big plays by the team’s backcourt as well. Boston was patient before moving over from the right side of the rim to the left to avoid defenders and score, cutting the Gamecocks’ deficit to 38-37 one minute and four seconds into the frame. She then put in the extra effort to rebound a missed Henderson three form the right corner and put back the layup turned 3-point play that made it 40-38 South Carolina.
Cooke responded to Boston’s energy by swiping a backcourt steal for a layup following another Boston make. That was immediately followed by another backcourt steal, this time by Henderson, which led to a deep two from Cooke that made it 46-40. That matched the Gamecocks’ largest lead of the game to that point and was their first six-point lead since 6-0 early.
UConn would battle throughout the third, but a Littleton three with 33 seconds left before the fourth gave South Carolina a three-point lead entering the final frame.
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The Gamecocks cut a six-point deficit in half by winning the second 19-16. Cooke scored six points in the frame and had 11 at the break. Boston also had 11 points at intermission to go along with nine rebounds.
The Huskies went on an 11-0 run from 4:56 to 2:26 in the first to open up a 20-8 lead. The run bean with a four-point play from Westbrook and finished with seven-straight points from Bueckers. South Carolina was then able to make it more respectable entering the second with six-straight points to close out the frame, including a foot-on-the-arc two from Boston.
South Carolina opened the game on a 6-0 run with threes from Cooke and Boston.
The Gamecocks outrebounded the Huskies 42-25 and forced 19 turnovers. They won offensive rebounds 19-6 and second chance points 17-2.