The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: Strong second half helps No. 4 South Carolina women's basketball to win over Alabama

Sophomore guard Brea Beal goes for the ball during the game against Alabama. South Carolina won 87-63.
Sophomore guard Brea Beal goes for the ball during the game against Alabama. South Carolina won 87-63.

No. 4 South Carolina women's basketball (14-1, 9-0 SEC) defeated Alabama (12-4, 5-4 SEC) 87-63 on Sunday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena. With the win, the Gamecocks have won their last 25 regular-season matchups in conference play, which is the longest streak in program history. 

After trailing at the end of the first half for the fourth time this season, the Gamecocks performed much better in the second half, outscoring Alabama 47-22. 

Despite not looking great going into the break, South Carolina's interior defense locked down in the third quarter, only allowing Alabama to shoot 31.3% from the field. Furthermore, the defense managed to force the Crimson Tide's hand, scoring 12 points off six turnovers in the second half. This was a drastic change in comparison to the first half, where the Gamecocks only had two points off seven turnovers.

"I just thought we disrupted in the third quarter," head coach Dawn Staley said. "We got out in transition and got some easy buckets. We made a few adjustments offensively to just shift their zone."

In the previous matchup between the two programs, Alabama senior guard Jordan Lewis and senior forward Jasmine Walker combined to score 44 of the team's 60 points. However, the defense found a way to slow down these two as Lewis scored 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting, while Walker had 15 points, making 5-of-11 shots from the field. 

After taking control with a crucial 11-0 run in the third quarter, the Gamecocks proved to be too much for Alabama to handle as they were able to win in convincing fashion. 

Sophomore guard Zia Cooke led the way for South Carolina in the third quarter, scoring 12 of the team's 24 points. This all came after a quiet first half, in which she only managed to make two shots. She finished with a game-high 21 points.

"My teammates just found me in the open spots and I was able to hit shots," Cooke said in a postgame interview with the SEC Network.

Besides Cooke, three more South Carolina starters were able to score in the double-digits. Junior forward Victaria Saxton scored 10 points and sophomore guard Brea Beal scored 11. Junior guard Destanni Henderson put together a fairly complete performance as she managed to score 14 points, along with six rebounds and seven assists.

While it was a slow day for sophomore forward Aliyah Boston on the offensive attack (2-10 shooting), she proved that she was a force to be reckoned with in the paint as she collected 13 rebounds and blocked three Alabama shots. 

With eight games remaining in the regular season, the Gamecocks will travel to play the Auburn Tigers. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday at Auburn Arena. The game will be televised on SEC Network+.