After suffering a rare defeat in their last home game to Tennessee, the No. 6 South Carolina Gamecocks dominated the paint to pick up a 60-41 home win over the Auburn Tigers Thursday night. The win moves USC to 21-2 (11-1) on the season.
In a defensive first half, the Gamecocks were able to find success down low against Auburn’s zone defense. They found Alaina Coates under the basket early and often as the senior had a game-high 10 points at the break. Her points helped Carolina to an 18-2 edge in the paint for the first half. The Tigers were holding their own on the glass with nine offensive rebounds in the first half, but they had no answer for Coates. Carolina was also able to hold Auburn’s leading scorer, Katie Frerking, to only five first-half points.
The Gamecocks started the second half strong to quickly get to a 20-point lead. Joining Coates, A’ja Wilson and Kaela Davis hit double figures to help balloon the lead to 25 in the third. They were able to cruise in the final period, resting starters at the end of the win.
Patience key as Coates and Wilson dominate the paint
The Gamecocks won the battle in the paint going away. They were able to get past Auburn’s zone with patient play and ball movement on the perimeter.
“We just wanted to see how they came out and played it and they actually packed it in, I thought they would have been a little more aggressive with it," said coach Dawn Staley. “We just wanted to be really patient and reverse the ball a few times and find where we could get ahead of the possession and get easier shots.”
Outscoring the Tigers 34-6 down low, Carolina used the height of Coates and Wilson to get easy baskets. Wilson led the team with a game-high 17 points. Coates finished a rebound shy of another double-double, scoring 16 and grabbing nine rebounds.
Gamecocks’ defense shuts down Auburn
The Auburn Tigers do not enjoy playing the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Tigers have been held to under 60 points in only four games this season and two of those have occurred against USC now.
“Going into this game we definitely applied more pressure, especially more than last time," said Coates. “Once we saw that what we were doing was really working we made sure to stay more aggressive.”
After scoring only 47 in the first matchup, the Tigers scored a season-low 41 points Thursday night. They only had 25 points heading into the final period. Frerking led the Tigers with 14 points. Tyra Johnson was the only other Tiger in double figures with 10.
Tough test up next
Next up for the Gamecocks is a trip up north to take on undefeated No. 1 UConn. They head to Stoors, Conn., looking to end a Huskies winning streak that could be at 100 by tip-off on Monday. Staley is looking forward to the matchup.
“It’s exciting, obviously," said Staley. “To get to play the number one team in the country on their floor. To put this team in that environment, it’s exciting. It’s exciting for women’s basketball and it’s exciting for our program.”
For the players, it’s just another game.
“I guess we're pretty excited. Were just taking it like another game, which is what it is," said Wilson. “I think the media is more excited than we are. But we're taking it as a game, preparing the same. Just doing us and staying within our system and doing South Carolina basketball.”
The matchup against the No.1 Huskies is at 9 p.m. on Monday night.