NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Zia Cooke scored 17 points to lead five in double figures and fourth-ranked South Carolina routed Vanderbilt 93-57 on Sunday to position the Gamecocks for a possible move up to No. 1 for the first time this season.
Top-ranked UConn lost to Baylor on Thursday night. No. 2 Oregon lost to Arizona State on Friday night, and Arizona State upset No. 3 Oregon State 55-47 earlier Sunday.
The Gamecocks (16-1, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) came in and simply dominated from the start on their way to a 10th straight win. They improved to 12-2 against Vanderbilt under coach Dawn Staley, including all six at Memorial Gym in this stretch. They’ve also won their first four in league play for the sixth time in the past seven seasons.
Chelsie Hall scored 15 points to lead Vanderbilt (12-5, 2-2). Mariella Fasoula added 12.
The Gamecocks opened the game scoring the first nine points, and they finished with a 12-3 run for a 21-9 lead after the first quarter.
But Vanderbilt had won seven of its last eight despite losing leading scorer Brinae Alexander to an Achilles injury on Nov. 28. That streak included the Commodores’ first win at Georgia since 2011 on Thursday night. The Commodores went on a 12- 2 spurt of their own and pulled within 27-24 on a layup by Mariella Fasoula with 3:06 to go in the second.
Vanderbilt didn’t score again the rest of the quarter, and South Carolina responded by scoring 11 straight for a 38-24 lead at halftime.
The Gamecocks picked up in the third where they left off, and Cooke’s 3 with 8:03 left capped a 21-point spurt that left South Carolina up 48-24. South Carolina outscored Vanderbilt 36-14 in the quarter and led 74-38 going into the fourth.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks made Vanderbilt pay for its mistakes with a 27-10 scoring edge off turnovers. They also used their speed for a 21-9 scoring difference on fast breaks. They also shot 50.7% (35-of-69) from the floor.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores now are 8-2 at Memorial Gym this season with both losses to teams ranked fourth in the nation. They lost to then-No. 4 UConn in November. They need only one more win this season to match the nine wins at home over the past two seasons combined. But forward Autumn Newby had to be carried off the court with 16.3 seconds left after a leg injury. She finished with five points and eight rebounds.
After Vanderbilt closed to with three at 27-24 late in the second quarter, South Carolina sped up the game to close the half on an 11-0 run and opened the third with a 16-2 surge to put the game away.
The Gamecocks shot 75.0 percent (12-of-16) from the field in the third quarter and went to the free throw line 11 times, hitting 10, to open the second half. They out-scored the Commodores 36-14 in the period.
- Carolina held the Commodores to nine first quarter points. This is the seventh time this season where the Garnet and Black held an opponent to single digits in the opening quarter.
- This is the seventh 90+ point game for the Gamecocks this season, the most since the 2016-17 squad tallied eight of them. The program record for 90+ point games in a season is held by the 1978-79 team that amassed nine such games. It is the program-record fourth 90-point SEC game of the season.
- The Gamecocks’ 36 third-quarter points matched their highest scoring quarter of the season.
- Zia Cooke led the Gamecocks in scoring for the fourth-straight game, notching 17 points, 12 of which came in the third quarter.
- Mikiah Herbert Harrigan had her best game in conference play this season with 15 points, four rebounds and two blocks. With 179 career blocks she now has sole possession of third place on the all-time blocks list at Carolina.
- Laeticia Amihere poured in 11 points off the bench for her second double-figure scoring game in SEC play.
- Tyasha Harris tallied 10 points and dished out six assists, moving her into second place all-time at Carolina with 598 career assists.
- Aliyah Boston rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points to go with her team-high eight rebounds and three blocks.
The Gamecocks (16-1, 4-0 SEC) head west to the other Columbia in the SEC for a showdown with the Missouri Tigers (4-13, 1-3 SEC). Tipoff is set for 8:30 ET and the game airs live on the SEC Network.