The No. 2 South Carolina Gamecocks headed to the West Coast after a win over in-state rival Clemson to beat the UCLA Bruins 68-65.
South Carolina — led by senior guard Tiffany Mitchell, junior center Alaina Coates and sophomore forward A’ja Wilson — looked to continue its success and notch another win to improve to 4-0 on the season. UCLA also came into this matchup looking to continue its undefeated season with the help of its young stars. The veteran Gamecock squad was up for the challenge against the young UCLA Bruin team, as they pulled out a nail-biting 68-65 win with the help of a career night for senior guard Tina Roy.
The game started out rough for the Gamecocks as turnovers plagued their offensive possessions. UCLA took advantage of these early mistakes by South Carolina’s offense to take an early lead in the game. The Bruins held onto this lead at the end of the first quarter. Mitchell’s five points in the quarter for the Gamecocks brought the game back to two, but the Gamecocks still trailed 16-14.
UCLA continued their lead early in the second quarter, but the Gamecocks fought back to get a lead with Coates’s steal and coast-to-coast transition to make it a 23-19 game with a little under four minutes left in the half. South Carolina still seemed to squander possessions away with turnovers, but, with the help of Roy’s nine points coming from three 3-pointers, the Gamecocks entered into the half with a one point 32-31 lead over UCLA.
The back-and-forth matchup continued into the second half as UCLA and South Carolina traded leads. The Gamecocks struggled late in the third quarter, giving UCLA a 48-45 lead heading into the final quarter.
The Gamecocks tied the game to 50-50 with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter with the help of Roy’s career high 17 points and five 3-pointers. Both teams started to get scrappy as the Gamecocks and Bruins were fighting for the victory. South Carolina’s defense stepped up late in the game in order for the team to take a 62-60 lead with a little over a minute left.
The Gamecocks took control of the game with Mitchell’s clutch floater and Wilson’s huge block leading to a layup by Coates with less than a minute left in the game. Mitchell's pair of free throws with 20 seconds left sealed the victory for the Gamecocks as they pick up the 68-65 win at UCLA.
The nail-biting win for the Gamecocks improves their record to 4-0 on the season. Roy, Mitchell, Coates and Wilson all reached double digit points on the night for South Carolina. Mitchell and Roy both led the team in points at 17 in order for the Gamecocks to pick up this tightly-contested victory. Roy had a career night as she reached a new high in points and for 3-pointers.
South Carolina’s next matchup is against No. 18 Arizona State on Friday in part of the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown in Waikiki, Hawaii.