COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Kamilla Cardoso is showing South Carolina’s inside game is much more than throw it down low to All-American Aliyah Boston.
The 6-foot-7 Cardoso had team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds as the top-ranked Gamecocks used their sizeable height advantage to take down Memphis 79-54 on Saturday.
Cardoso hit nine of 12 attempts, most a foot or two from the basket, and continued her surge for South Carolina, which opened 8-0 for a second straight year and sixth time in coach Dawn Staley’s 15 seasons.
Boston had her 66th double-double in college with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Cardoso totaled 31 points and 20 rebounds in South Carolina’s first five games. She has gotten 45 points and 33 boards in the past three.
Cardoso was limited to zero points and four rebounds in the 76-71 overtime win at No. 2 Stanford last month, then did not play two days later at Cal Poly.
Staley told her it was time to step things up.
“I think it’s time,” Staley said. “She’s a dominant player and we’re tired of her being less than dominant. And she’s responded.”
Cardoso gives South Carolina a second, really tall option and Boston a reliable inside presence when she’s at the top of the key. Twice against Memphis (4-4), Boston threw it in to Cardoso, who easily converted the bucket.
“It makes me think, ‘All right, let’s just do it again,’” Boston said with a smile.
Staley, at 5-6, was known as one of the toughest, most determined players of her generation in college, the pros and the Olympics. Yet, she’s built a powerhouse with tall, talented players like Boston and Cardoso.
Memphis had no answers: The Tigers were outscored 60-14 in the paint and outrebounded 52-30. They lost their third straight and second in a row to a Top-5 opponent after falling to No. 5 Indiana 79-64 on Nov. 26.
Memphis coach Katrina Merriweather said it’s games like the past two that, despite losing, will serve her team well going forward.
“We talk to our women about national prominence,” she said. “You have to do more than just watch it on television, you’ve got to see it up close and personal.”
Laeticia Amihere, a 6-4 senior, had 10 points and three of South Carolina’s eight blocks.
Things started well for Memphis, which was up 5-0 just 68 seconds in on Madison Griggs’ 3-pointer and Lanetta Williams’ bucket. That’s when the Gamecocks got going, outscoring the Tigers 27-9 the rest of the period to take control of the game.
Cardoso’s first close-in basket tied things at 12 and her next one put South Carolina out front. Cardoso added five more baskets in the opening quarter.
Jamirah Shutes and Destyne Jackson had 10 points each to lead the Tigers.
THE BIG PICTURE
Memphis: It’s been an up-and-down season so far. The Tigers won four straight in early November before dropping the past three. Memphis is led by active guards like Shutes, Jackson and Emani Jefferson who will keep them in most games this season.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks showed once more the advantage of relying on really tall players. Cardoso is a catch-shoot-and-score machine down low who’s hitting 70% of her shots this season. Adding her to Boston, 6-4 Laeticia Amihere and 6-3 newcomer Ashlyn Watkins make a formidable front wall.
While the Gamecocks are deadly around the basket, they’re struggling so far behind the line. They’ve gone 2 of 18 on 3-pointers their past two games and are shooting less than 29% on threes.
Memphis: Returns home to play NC Central on Thursday night.
South Carolina: Ends its four-game homestand with Liberty on Dec. 11.
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