Gamecock women handle St. John's 76-58

Gamecock women handle St. John's 76-58

ESTERO, FL (AP) - There was nothing elaborate about what Alexis Jennings was doing. She posted up, demanded the ball, executed drop steps after the catch and barreled her way around anyone attempting to guard her.

''My team needed me,'' Jennings said.

She was right, and she delivered as well.

Jennings scored 25 points, A'ja Wilson scored 17 and No. 3 South Carolina survived a little shakiness late to beat St. John's 76-58 on Saturday in the semifinals of the Gulf Coast Showcase.

Jennings started hot and finished hot - she made her first five shots, and then finished by making five of her final six.

''I think I pretty much knew that it was going to be there,'' Jennings said. ''My teammates, they just found me and I just did what I did, posted up, showed my numbers and they were able to get me the ball.''

Wilson also grabbed 17 rebounds for the Gamecocks (6-0), who won their 17th straight game going back to last season.

The win means South Carolina coach Dawn Staley will go for career victory No. 400 on Sunday night, when the Gamecocks play for the tournament title against either No. 6 Notre Dame or No. 17 South Florida.

''I truly didn't know,'' Staley said. ''But what a way to do it, against some good competition tomorrow, either team.''

St. John's (3-1) made its first shot, and then missed its next 18 attempts from the field. Akina Wellere scored 14 points for the Red Storm, who shot 31 percent.

But they gave the Gamecocks - who led by as many as 23 - a scare in the final minutes. The Red Storm held South Carolina to six points in the second quarter and went 5 for 5 in one stretch of the fourth quarter, getting within 62-53 when Wellere scored with 3:30 left.

Tyasha Harris hit a 3-pointer to stop the Red Storm run, Jennings powered her way for a three-point play with 1:56 left to restore a 15-point lead, and the upset bid ended there.

And now, a championship game awaits.

''It gives us a measure of where we are and where we need to be,'' Jennings said.