No. 19/14 South Carolina dominated on the glass to pick up the 68-43 win over Clemson in its first road game of the season. Four Gamecocks (4-0) finished in double figures, led by Aleighsa Welch’s 17 points and 10 rebounds for her third double-double of the season. Her all-around effort included four assists and three blocked shots as well as the Gamecocks held the Tigers (1-3) to just 29.2 percent field goal shooting, including 13.0 percent in the first half. Sophomore Tiffany Mitchell had a strong game as well, netting 14 points to go with six rebounds and a career-high five assists.
The Gamecocks sprinted out of the gate, taking 13-4 lead behind a quick-strike offense. Clemson netted the first basket of the game, but Mitchell answered with a long jumper from the left wing. From there, South Carolina crashed the defensive glass, limiting the Tigers to just one shot and turning that rebound quickly into offense. Elem Ibiam hit back-to-back shots from either side of the rim to put the Gamecocks up 6-2 early. Clemson’s Charmaine Tay hit a driving layup to break up the run, but again Mitchell had the answer, this time with a 3-pointer from the left side. After a turnover, Welch hit a put-back and then a runner in the lane set up by dribble penetration on the next trip up the floor.
From there, the offense slowed down, but the defense stayed solid. The Tigers managed just one more basket, but stayed within striking distance thanks to a series of trips to the free throw line. South Carolina hit just enough shots to maintain a double-digit lead for the rest of the period and took a 27-15 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Gamecocks got quickly back on track in the second half, opening the period with a 6-0 run keyed by getting the ball inside where Ibiam and Welch went to work. Mitchell added a transition layup to make it a 33-17 lead with 17:28 to play. Clemson looked to start a run with a steal and a transition layup from Chelsea Lindsey, but for the third time Mitchell shut it down before it could get started – this time with a 3-points from the left corner. On the next possession, crisp ball movement around the perimeter yielded a 3 from Khadijah Sessions and the lead was at 20 points with 15:29 to play.
South Carolina’s dominance on the glass kept the Tigers at bay through the remainder of the half as the Gamecocks won the battle of the boards 49-27. They turned 10 offensive rebounds into 21 points and scored 40 of their 68 points in the paint, shooting 53.8 percent in the second half to lift their game percentage to .456.
Joining Welch and Mitchell in double-figure points were Ibiam and Sessions with 10 apiece. Coates nearly joined them with nine points, all coming in the second half.
South Carolina continues its three-game road stretch with a pair of West Coast games this weekend. The Gamecocks face San Diego State on Sat., Nov. 23, before heading to Southern Cal for a Monday afternoon game.
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