COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Aliyah Boston had 19 points and 15 rebounds for her 10th consecutive double-double and No. 1 South Carolina used a third-quarter surge to put away Texas A&M 65-45 on Thursday night.
Boston had already tied the program best with nine consecutive double-doubles last time out and moved on top when she grabbed her 10th rebound 17 minutes into the game. She already had 15 points.
Still, the Gamecocks (16-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) needed a 15-2 run after halftime to take control. The Aggies (10-6, 0-4) tied it at 26-all on Kayla Wells’ opening basket of the period. That’s when South Carolina turned things up. Destanni Henderson had a pair of 3-pointers while Boston added another inside bucket.
When Zia Cooke hit a 3-pointer, South Carolina led 41-28 and would not be caught as the Aggies opened conference play with four straight defeats – something it had never done since joining the league before the 2012-13 season.
Boston went for eight points the first eight minutes as the Gamecocks moved out to a 16-4 lead. But Texas A&M cranked up the defense and connected on shots, outscoring South Carolina 20-10 to the half and pulled within 26-24.
Like most other opponents this season, the Aggies couldn’t slow down Boston, who notched her 10th straight game with double figure points and rebounds with more than three minutes left in the second quarter.
While Boston was on fire, Cooke was ice cold. The South Carolina junior, averaging 12.6 points a game, missed all nine shots she took in the opening half, five of those from beyond the arc.
Cooke finished 3 of 16 overall – all her baskets on threes – for 10 points. Henderson had 15 points and Victaria Saxton 10.
Qudashiah Hoppie led the Aggies with 15 points on 5-of-19 shooting.
It was Blair’s final time at the Colonial Life Arena, a building he’s praised for its its huge crowds and atmosphere. He walked the concourse an hour before tipoff, hugging supporters and interacting with fans.
Blair’s national championship compatriot, Dawn Staley, presented him with a gift box right before the start as several fans stood and cheered for the Aggies’ coach, retiring after this season. Blair mimicked a golf swing so golf balls were probably involved.
- Aliyah Boston needed just 14 minutes to secure her 10th double-double in a row, a program record last set in 1978. The first half was all Boston, who accounted for 15 of the team’s 26 points and 10 of the 24 team rebounds – including seven offensive boards.
- Boston is one of four women in the SEC to have a streak of 10 games or more in a row with a double-double over the last 20 seasons. The high for that period is 19, set by LSU’s Sylvia Fowles in the 2006-07 season.
- A&M tied the score at 26 with a basket to open the third quarter, but the Gamecocks ran off 12 unanswered points to regain the lead for good. The run was led by Destanni Henderson, who knocked down a pair of 3s during the run – one to make it a 29-26 lead and another to make it 34-26. Henderson scored 11 of her 15 total points in the second half.
- Victaria Saxton continues to bring her best to SEC showdowns, the senior post scored in double figures for the third time in four games with 10 points Thursday. It isn’t just her offense, it’s her efficiency; in SEC play, Saxton is averaging 9.4 points in five conference games while shooting 19-of-28 (67.9 percent) from the field.
- Kamilla Cardoso gave the team life on both ends of the floor off the bench, totaling eight points and six rebounds but also leading the team in blocks (3) and steals (2).
- Also off the bench, LeLe Grissett earned a season-high for minutes (14) and came away with five field goal attempts and a season-high six rebounds.
- The Gamecock rebounding effort came away with another impressive result Thursday, with a 53-31 advantage on the glass. Among the 53 rebounds, 26 came on the offensive end. Boston’s nine offensive rebounds led the way, it was one shy of the junior’s career high. The 26 offensive rebounds are the fifth-most in a game under head coach Dawn Staley and it fueled a 31-12 advantage in second-chance points for South Carolina.
- The Aggies entered the game shooting over 41 percent from 3-point range, the second-highest success rate in the nation. South Carolina shut that down, holding A&M to just 2-of-9 from deep.
- Texas A&M finished the night shooting 29.3 percent overall, it is the seventh opponent this season that shot under 30 percent in a game.
- With a win over A&M head coach Gary Blair, the Gamecocks now have five wins this season over coaches who have won national championships in their respective careers. Per ESPN, it is the first time since 1999-00 that a team last accomplished that feat.
South Carolina ends the week with a road game at Arkansas on Sunday. With a 3:30 p.m. tip time on ESPN2, the Gamecocks look for their seventh win in a row in Fayetteville, a streak dating back to 2012. The Razorbacks are 11-5 overall and 1-2 in SEC play, most recently defeating Missouri at home last Sunday.
Courtesy – South Carolina Athletics