COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – A’ja Wilson scored 27 points and had a career-best 24 rebounds to lead No. 7 South Carolina to a 57-48 win over No. 24 LSU on Thursday night.
Wilson turned in one of her most dominant performances in her final regular season home game.
It was senior night and the 6-foot-5 Wilson scored the first seven points of the game as the Gamecocks (23-5, 12-3 Southeastern Conference) never trailed.
LSU (18-8, 10-5) kept the score close for most of the game. When the Tigers cut it to a single possession game for the final time at 30-28 in the third quarter, Wilson scored on three of the next four possessions – and had an assist on another – to give South Carolina a 38-28 lead in her final regular season game at home.
Wilson grew up just down the road in Hopkins, South Carolina and rejected offers from UConn, Tennessee and North Carolina to be a part of a program on the rise. She had taken it to new heights. The Gamecocks won their first national title and three SEC titles during Wilson’s four years. She will likely become a three-time All-American and SEC player of the year at the end of the season.
The crowd chanted her name after coach Dawn Staley called a timeout to take her out of the game with 27.6 seconds left.
Raigyne Louis had 17 points and eight rebounds and Chole Jackson added 16 points for LSU
The Tigers scored 22 points off 14 turnovers and only gave away the ball five times, but they couldn’t overcome 32.8 percent (22-of-67) shooting from the field.
Alexis Jennings added 10 points for South Carolina.
LSU: The Tigers were playing their first game as a ranked team in four years. LSU can finish as high as third or as low as seventh in the SEC. The Tigers had only been held under 10 points in eight total quarters all season before Thursday night. LSU scored just eight in the first quarter and seven in the third quarter against South Carolina.
South Carolina: This probably won’t be Wilson’s last home game. South Carolina was projected a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament seed earlier this week and would get to host the first two tournament games The Gamecocks assured themselves a double-bye with a top four seed in the SEC tournament with the win. Wilson has led her team in scoring in 18 of the 26 games she has played this season. Wilson is now 30 points away from breaking Shelia Foster’s school record of 2,266 points.
LSU: Hosts Alabama on Sunday to finish the regular season.
South Carolina: Ends the regular season Sunday at No. 15 Tennessee