COLUMBIA, S.C. – Junior LeLe Grissett came off the bench to lead six Gamecocks in double figures with her game-high 12 points as No. 5/6 South Carolina downed the Duke Blue Devils, 89-46, on Thursday night at Colonial Life Arena. The offense was smooth, shooting 51.0 percent over the last three quarters, but the defensive effort again dominated the game for the Gamecocks, who tallied 41 points off 30 Duke turnovers.
Grissett made plays all over the court, tying the game high with 12 points to go along with her three rebounds, two steals, one block and one assist. Freshman Zia Cooke notched her second-straight game in double figures with 12 points, while also pulling down four rebounds, dishing out two assists and securing a pair of steals. Senior Tyasha Harris finished with 11 points, three assists and three steals in the game. A trio of Gamecocks scored 10 points each – freshman Aliyah Boston, senior Mikiah Herbert Harrigan and freshman Brea Beal. Boston and Herbert Harrigan pulled down eight rebounds each, tying for game-high honors, while Beal accounted for seven rebounds to go along with a pair of blocks, two assists and two steals.
Both teams showed off hot shooting early, and the lead changed hands seven times in the opening quarter. An early Duke run put the Gamecocks behind 7-3 lead just 1:33 into the game, but Carolina struck back with a three-point play from Cooke, followed by a three from Beal to take a 9-7 lead. Duke regained the advantage with a three from Kyra Lambert, but it didn’t last as Herbert Harrigan got on the board with a bucket. Duke’s Miela Goodchild scored on the following possession to give the Blue Devils a 12-11 lead with 5:56 remaining in the first. That, however, would be the final Blue Devil advantage of lead of the night. Boston hit a layup to make it 13-12 Gamecocks, and sophomore Destanni Henderson followed that with her first bucket of the night to go up 15-12. Herbert Harrigan added a free throw late in the first to send the Gamecocks into the break with a 16-14 lead.
Carolina kept the momentum rolling into the second with great bench contributions and a defense that simply smothered the Blue Devils for the full 10 minutes. Redshirt-freshman Laeticia Amihere notched her first points of the game on a layup, and Grissett turned her steal into a layup to make it 20-14. A Duke free throw briefly stemmed the tide, but Boston stuck back an offensive rebound and Grissett converted a three-point play before the Blue Devils could get back on the board. A 5-0 run bookended by layups from Amihere and sophomore Victaria Saxton put Carolina in firm control with a 31-18 lead with 4:26 left in the half. Duke stopped the run with another Baines free throw, but the Gamecocks closed the half on a 6-0 spurt to lead 37-19 at halftime.
For the second-straight game Cooke took over in the third, scoring eight of her 12 points after the halftime break. After the teams traded buckets early in the period, Harris and Cooke hit back-to-back threes that seemed to cut out the Blue Devils’ heart. The Gamecock’s defense stayed locked in as well, holding Duke to 11 points to take a commanding 63-30 lead into the fourth.
After a tight first quarter, the Gamecocks smothered the Blue Devils defensively in the second, holding Duke to five points on 1-of-8 shooting from the field and 10 turnovers.
The Gamecocks forced 30 Duke turnovers, a season high for the Blue Devils, and scored 41 points off those turnovers.