The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: Boston’s versatility helps South Carolina survive scare from unranked LSU

Sophomore guard Zia Cooke drives past a defender in South Carolina's win over LSU Sunday. The Gamecocks remain undefeated in the SEC.
Sophomore guard Zia Cooke drives past a defender in South Carolina's win over LSU Sunday. The Gamecocks remain undefeated in the SEC.

The South Carolina women’s basketball team defeated LSU 69-65 on the road Sunday to remain undefeated in conference play this season, improving to 12-1 (7-0 SEC). The win marks 26 consecutive conference victories for the Gamecocks, and their fifth road win of the season with no losses away from home.

South Carolina started slow, and the game developed as a defensive battle through the first two quarters as LSU took a 2-point lead into the half. The teams continued to struggle from the field in the third quarter, as the Gamecocks' length on defense and LSU’s stifling zone scheme kept each offense in check.

After the Tigers scored the opening bucket of the fourth quarter, South Carolina scored 9 consecutive points to take the lead, which they would hold for the rest of the game. Most of the points from the run were scored in transition, highlighted by LeLe Grissett, who scored all eight of her points in the final period.

“It’s pretty cool when you have a team which can embrace change,” head coach Dawn Staley said after the game, praising her squad for the second-half turnaround. 

After scoring only 23 points in the first half, the Gamecock offense came alive with 46 second-half points, led by the reigning national freshman of the year, Aliyah Boston. Boston recorded yet another double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds in the contest to power the Gamecocks to the win. Six of her rebounds were offensive, leading to vital second-chance opportunities in the close game.

Boston’s ability to find openings within a zone defense allows her teammates opportunities to get her the ball in soft spots of the zone, and her improved shooting saw her sink shots from mid-range at the free throw line and baseline. She also continued her interior dominance, drawing fouls and finishing contested shots in the paint.

“She scored enough; she rebounded the ball; she facilitated; she played huge minutes for us,” Staley said. “And I know she was probably tired, you know, but Aliyah is embracing her role.”

Destanni Henderson added a strong showing for South Carolina with 16 points and eight assists, including a couple full-court dimes to Grissett during the team's run to open the fourth quarter. She also had the team’s only two 3-pointers. Zia Cooke and Brea Beal contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively, to help the Gamecocks secure the victory.

South Carolina looks to further its already-impressive conference win streak on Jan. 28 as the team travels to Mississippi State.