OXFORD, Miss. (AP)Despite an overwhelming defensive performance that held Mississippi scoreless in the first quarter and limited Ole Miss to two points in the first half, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley saw room for improvement.
”I don’t think we played as well as we could, and that’s not taking away from the good things we did,” Staley said after the No. 1 Gamecocks beat Ole Miss 87-32 on Thursday night. ”Ole Miss just missed shots. But we’ve got to make better decisions offensively and do the little things, the routine things better.”
Leticia Amihere scored 16 points as South Carolina (20-1, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) led Ole Miss (7-14, 0-8) 33-2 at the half.
Mikiah Herbert Harrigan scored eight points, blocked two shots and added a steal in the early decisive surge as the Lady Rebels missed 19 consecutive shots and had 16 turnovers.
Tyasha Harris and Herbert Harrigan finished with 10 points apiece for South Carolina, which led by as many as 57 points, 87-30, on a 3-point shot by Olivia Thompson with 1:17 remaining.
Ole Miss ended its first-half scoring drought on Mimi Reid’s layup with 57 seconds left in the second quarter. Reid led the Rebels with 12 points.
Ole Miss finished 13 of 50 (26%) from the field and 0 of 10 from the 3-point line.
”I”m still in shock. I thought about picking up my phone and calling the facilities leadership because something had to be on top of our basket,” Mississippi coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said. ”The ball was in and out, short, long. But hats off to South Carolina. That’s why they’re No. 1.”
The last time a Division 1 team scored as few as two points in a half was Dec. 16, 2016, when Western Kentucky defeated Lipscomb 87-35 after leading 56-2 at halftime.
South Carolina was 33 of 62 (53%) from the field, 8 of 19 (42%) from 3-point range and 13 of 17 (76%) from the free throw line. The Gamecocks outrebounded the Rebels 45-22, including a game-high eight rebounds by Aliyah Boston.
”We take pride in our defense and we played well on that end early,” Amihere said. ”But we’ve got to a better job communicating than what we did in the second half. There’s always room for improvement.”
South Carolina: The Gamecocks were not caught looking ahead showcasing a dominating performance. The schedule moves into overdrive as the next three games feature ranked teams: No. 22 Tennessee at home, a visit to No. 25 Arkansas and a non-conference home match with No. 4 Connecticut.
”It;s big,” Staley said. ”it’s a big schedule in a week.”
Ole Miss: The Rebels weren’t bad defensively in the first half, forcing eight turnovers and limiting South Carolina to 13 of 30 (29%) from the field. No defense could compensate for the offensive performance, which set season lows in every statistical category.
”We’re shooting bullets, but we’re coming out with blanks,” McPhee-McCuin said. ”But we’re going to come back tomorrow morning, work hard, try to turn the tide and continue to build.”
South Carolina: The No. 1 ranking will remain secure, pending the outcomes of the crucial three-game set.
South Carolina: Hosts No. 22 Tennessee on Sunday.
Ole Miss: Hosts Alabama on Sunday.
More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/Womenscollegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25