In a highly anticipated SEC showdown, the No. 1 South Carolina women’s basketball team played host to No. 9 Mississippi State (16-3) at Colonial Life Arena on Monday night.
At the start of play, the Gamecocks (18-1) came out ready as they knocked down six of their first 11 shots. While there were many players from South Carolina that shot well early, Tyasha Harris was the most consistent as she made four of five field goal attempts. She led the team with 10 points at the end of the first quarter. South Carolina held a nine-point advantage over the Bulldogs, winding up 22-13.
The second quarter proved to be a more back-and-forth affair as both teams proved why they are ranked in the top 10. For the Bulldogs, Rickea Jackson finished the half with a game high 13 points along with four rebounds and one steal. While not taking a single shot thus far, Jessika Carter was a force down low in the paint as she tallied two blocked shots.
Midway through the second quarter, South Carolina senior Mikiah Herbert Harrigan knocked down a 3-point shot, which gave her 1,000 points for her collegiate career. With that said, she has become the 35th player in school history to reach this milestone. Aliyah Boston was perfect from the field as she went 4-4, which was good for eight points. In addition, she had four rebounds, two assists and one block.
After being outplayed in the opening quarter, Mississippi State fought back to cut the opposing lead to one. South Carolina led at the break, 43-42.
Each time one team took the lead in the third quarter, the other team would retaliate. Mississippi State played exceptional in this quarter as they ended up taking a three-point lead heading into the final period of play. The Bulldogs bench proved to be a key role in their comeback as Aliyah Matharu had 10 points, while her teammates, JaMya Mingo-Young and Xaria Wiggins, each had eight. At the end of three quarters of play, the top-ranked Gamecocks were behind by a score of 65-62.
Mississippi State broke the game open in the fourth quarter as they were up by nine points early on. However, South Carolina freshman Aliyah Boston stepped up in crunch time by hitting three consecutive shots to cut the lead dramatically. With just under five minutes to go, Zia Cooke drove to the basket and finished for an and-one to give the Gamecocks a one-point lead. With six seconds to go, Mississippi State had one last chance to win or tie the game. However, Cooke stole the ball at half court to seal the deal.
South Carolina came away with another win for the season, defeating Mississippi State by a score of 81-79.
“Well, the first thing I thought was okay, let’s catch the ball. So, when I caught it, I’m like, okay; I need to run away from her so she doesn’t foul me and we can just end this (game) now,” Zia Cooke said after having the game-winning steal tonight.
On Sunday, South Carolina will hit the road and travel to Athens to take on the Georgia Bulldogs (11-7). Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. from Stegeman Coliseum. This game will be streaming on the SEC Network.
Players of the game
South Carolina forward/center Aliyah Boston: 21 points (10-14 shooting), 12 rebounds, three assists and one block.
South Carolina guard Tyasha Harris: 23 points (8-15 shooting), seven assists and one steal.