COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Zia Cooke scored 22 points and No. 1 South Carolina won its 32nd straight game, 87-56 over Florida on Thursday night.
The Gamecocks (26-0, 13-0 Southeastern Conference) showed no hangover from their 88-64 win over then-third-ranked LSU this past Sunday and moved a step closer to their seventh regular-season league title under coach Dawn Staley.
South Carolina led 29-15 after the first quarter and 51-21 at the break. Reigning Associated Press player of the year Aliyah Boston played just 15 minutes due to the lopsided score, finishing with four points and six rebounds.
Nina Rickards scored 16 points for the Gators (14-12, 3-10), who continued their SEC struggles since losing leading scorer Zippy Broughton the in preseason.
Cooke was the Gamecocks’ catalyst, making 8 of her 11 shots while fellow senior Brea Beal had 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Cooke and Beal combined for all of South Carolina’s season-high eight 3-pointers — Cooke with five and Beal with three.
Forward Victaria Saxton had 11 points while center Kamilla Cardoso pulled down 11 rebounds. Freshman Ashlyn Watkins had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
- The Gamecocks had a strong first half, shooting 65.0 percent from the field (13-of-20) in the first period to then out-scoring the Gators 22-6 in the second.
- South Carolina was dominant behind the arc, shooting 47.1 percent (8-of-17) for its highest 3-point percentage of the season in conference play.
- Zia Cooke posted her fifth 20+ point game of the season, putting up 13 of her 22 points in the first half alone, finishing 5-of-7 (71.4%) from 3-point range.
- Brea Beal had a complete night, going 5-of-7 from the field and 3-of-4 from behind the arc to end the night with a season high 14 points, her third double-figure game in the past five outings, and adding seven rebounds, a team-high three assists and two blocks.
- Ashlyn Watkins was a force in the fourth quarter, putting up nine of her 12 total points and 10 rebounds to earn her second career double-double in addition to a block, steal, and assist all in just 16 minutes of play.
- Victaria Saxton’s 11 points were her fifth double-figure game of the season, contributing five points to a 20-2 run in the second quarter to extend the lead by 32.