The No. 1 South Carolina women's basketball team extended its home winning streak to 36 games after earning an 81-50 win over Missouri on Sunday in front of a season-high 15,444 fans at Colonial Life Arena.
Missouri, a strong 3-point shooting team, came out focused, shooting 60% from beyond the arc in the opening five minutes of the game. The Gamecocks started slower on offense, going 7-19 in the first quarter with an 0-5 shooting run in the last three minutes.
"They make you pay, so it was us locking in and playing the way we needed to play and early communication," head coach Dawn Staley said. "They wait until you make the mistake, and they make you pay for it."
South Carolina found its strength in the second quarter, shooting over 50% and stifling the 3-pointers on the Missouri side. The changes allowed the Gamecocks to pull away with a 12-0 scoring run in the last two and a half minutes before halftime.
"We had some errors where we weren't communicating on screens, and they were able to get open threes," senior guard Zia Cooke said. "Once we were able to lock in and understand what we need to do to stop that from happening, the lead started to get up".
Cooke tallied her 10th consecutive game in double figures, scoring 16 points.
In the third quarter, senior forward Aliyah Boston locked in her 11th double-double of the season and the 71st double-double of her career. She ended the game with 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. This puts her only one double-double behind the all-time career leader for the Gamecocks, Sheila Foster, who played at South Carolina from 1979-1982.
"(Aliyah) works hard at everything that she does," Staley said. "Cheering on her teammates, talking out there on the floor, running up and down the floor, going after rebounds, that's who she is. That's her makeup. That's her DNA, and we're savoring it."
The electricity of the crowd continued all the way through the fourth quarter to the end of the game. The Gamecocks maintained a perfect season, and Missouri head coach Robin Pingeton gave credit to the crowd.
"Let's be honest, it's challenging to play them home or away," Pingeton said. "It's incredible the fan support ... Dawn has created a special program here, and this community has really rallied around them."
The Gamecocks (18-0, 6-0 SEC) look to keep up the perfect season when it faces Vanderbilt in Nashville on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. The game will air on the SEC Network.