COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina took a while to run away from Clemson on Thursday night. But when the USC women’s basketball team got into the second half, it finally gave itself a healthy lead against its in-state rival and looked more like the No. 6 team in the nation.
The Gamecocks (8-1) rolled to a 83-61 win against in-state rival Clemson on Thursday night at Colonial Life Arena in a game that was close through much of the first half. The Gamecocks now have won seven in row against Clemson.
South Carolina opened the second half on a 17-6 run to push its lead to 55-34, a 21-point margin it would later extend to 23 in the fourth quarter. Seven Gamecocks scored in that third-quarter stretch, with a dazzling touch pass from senior forward Alaina Coates to freshman forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan for an open layup providing a highlight.
The USC defense held Clemson below 40 percent shooting, while it had no trouble finding its offense on the interior after a sluggish start.
Coates and junior forward A’ja Wilson led the Gamecocks with a combined 39 points and 20 rebounds, as the pair made the most of a major advantage in the post. The duo came up big in an 11-2 run after Clemson cut the USC lead to 22-21 early in the second quarter.
Junior guard Kaela Davis had 17 points before she fouled out late in the fourth quarter.
Player of the game
There really was no wrong choice between Coates and Wilson, both of whom had outstanding games and stuffed the stat sheet. The edge went to Wilson, who had a nice fourth quarter. The junior finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds after a 10-point, 5-rebound first half.
Clemson opened the second quarter with a quick 5-0 run to pull within 22-21. South Carolina hit right back with an 11-2 run, scoring 8 in a row to push its lead back to 33-23.
The Gamecocks played to their big advantage and went inside for all 8 of the points to cap the run, as Doniyah Cliney scored a pair of buckets, while Coates and Wilson each had one.
What’s next for South Carolina women’s basketball
South Carolina plays No. 9 UCLA (7-1) at 2 p.m. Sunday at Colonial Life Arena
South Carolina vs. Clemson box score