A powerful lockdown defense set early in the game helped the South Carolina Gamecocks beat the Vanderbilt Commodores 85-30 on Monday.
Junior forward Aliyah Boston led the Gamecock defense by getting a block within the first three minutes. South Carolina put pressure on Vanderbilt straight from the inbound, not giving the Commodores any breathing room.
Graduate guard LeLe Grissett shined in the starting lineup, scoring 14 points and getting five offensive rebounds. Grissett said she was able to limit turnovers during the game thanks to practicing burpees.
"Burpees change your whole mindset ... a turnover is a burpee," Grissett said.
South Carolina was aggressive on the boards and out-rebounded Vanderbilt 48-19. Offensive rebounds on many possessions put the Gamecocks in a great position, keeping control of the ball and in control of the pace.
Boston got another consecutive double-double tonight, marking her 12th game with at least 10 points and 10 rebounds. She also had two blocks and four steals.
Grissett said Boston's success helps the entire team: "It means a lot ... Everybody went crazy on the bench."
The Gamecocks played aggressive press defense but avoided foul trouble, only allowing the Commodores to shoot four free throws, while the Gamecocks shot 17, making 13 of them.
Head coach Dawn Staley said a goal of theirs was to “create offense from our defense."
A big piece of the Gamecock strategy was fastbreak and paint points. The team scored 16 points on fast breaks and dominated inside the paint, scoring 44 points. The sheer size and athleticism of South Carolina was too much for the Vanderbilt, limiting the Commodores to just four points in the paint the entire game.
Staley said she came into the game with the mindset of a fast-paced offense.
"We've been practicing well with the mindset of playing with energy, with taking care of the basketball," Staley said.
The passing from the Gamecocks was lively and the ball was always moving, disrupting the Vanderbilt defense. Passes were on the perimeter until they found an opening to the inside, which they usually capitalized on, getting easy points in the paint. The Gamecocks had 20 assists on the night.
Vanderbilt was without its starting point guard, senior Jordyn Cambridge, which may have contributed to the blowout loss.
This was the Gamecocks largest point differential of the season. The team did not allow more than eight points to be scored in any quarter. South Carolina created nine steals and blocked nine shots, showing the aggressive nature of its defense.
South Carolina faces off against Ole Miss on Jan. 27 at Colonial Life Arena.