AUBURN, Ala. (AP)South Carolina didn’t get caught looking back or ahead in a game tucked between two higher-profile matchups.
Zia Cooke had 15 points and four assists in 20 minutes to lead the top-ranked Gamecocks to their 30th straight win, 83-48 over Auburn on Thursday night.
The Gamecocks (24-0, 11-0 Southeastern Conference) dominated from the start. They were coming off an 81-77 win over No. 4 UConn and host No. 3 LSU on Sunday.
”We have a team that just takes care of what’s in front of them, doesn’t look ahead,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. ”We stay current and that’s because we’ve got a very experienced, seasoned team. They’ve always been that way. No matter what game that’s in front of us, they’ve stayed current.”
Aliyah Boston had 10 points and eight rebounds for South Carolina before exiting with 8:54 left to end a string of eight straight double-doubles. Victaria Saxton scored six of the Gamecocks’ first eight points and finished with 10. Kierra Fletcher had nine points and five assists.
South Carolina outrebounded Auburn 50-26 and had 11 players score. Cooke and Boston both got to sit early while the deep bench kept it going.
”They played probably four or five minutes less than what they normally play,” Staley said. ”We’ve got a really good bench. They are locked in. We have developed that bench over the season.
”The maturity level, the growth, the communication, they’re so very competitive that there’s no letdown. They don’t want to let each other down.”
Sydney Shaw tied her career high with 15 points and made 3 of 4 3-pointers to lead the Tigers (13-10, 3-8). Auburn played without its top scorer and rebounder Aicha Coulibaly, who sat out with a leg injury. Mar’shaun Bostic added 10 points.
No. 2 scorer Honesty Scott-Grayson was held to four points on 2-of-11 shooting.
South Carolina doubled up Auburn in the first half, 42-21, after scoring the first eight points of the second quarter.
It didn’t get closer.
The Gamecocks made 34 of 69 shots (49.3%). Auburn was 19-of-61 shooting (31.1%) against the nation’s top scoring defense.
”I thought they battled,” Auburn coach Johnnie Harris said. ”There’s a lot of things we have to work on. We have a lot to fix, but I thought this game was important.
”If you’re a competitor you want to be in this game. They’re the No. 1 team in the country for a reason so even though we’re young you want to be in this game because you want to be able to see where you go from here.”
South Carolina: Has won the last 14 meetings. The Gamecocks had assists on 19 of 34 baskets.
Auburn: Dropped its second straight after a three-game SEC winning streak. South Carolina won the first meeting 94-42 on Jan. 5.
GOOD LUCK JERSEY
Staley wore a Philadelphia Eagles jersey and has high hopes for her team against Kansas City in the Super Bowl.
”I feel good,” she said. ”I think everyone time someone asks me that, we move it up by a touchdown, so we’re going to win by four touchdowns.”
South Carolina hosts No. 3 LSU on Sunday.
Auburn visits Alabama on Sunday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll