COLUMBIA, SC (AP) - A'ja Wilson had her eighth double-double this year with 26 points and 15 rebounds, and No. 5 South Carolina put away College of Charleston 69-43 on Tuesday night.
It was the third straight victory for the Gamecocks (9-1) since their lone loss to No. 3 Notre Dame on Nov. 26. South Carolina now takes an almost two-week break - and early on, it looked like it had begun the time off just a bit early.
The Gamecocks opened 2 of 12 shooting with three turnovers and were only up 8-3 over the struggling Cougars (2-6). That's when Wilson got going with four straight baskets to build a double-digit lead that South Carolina would not relinquish.
Wilson, the 6-foot-5 senior, was no match for College of Charleston. She reached double figures in points and rebounds in her first 12 minutes.
The Cougars, who made only three field goals the opening 20 minutes, used a 12-2 start to the third quarter to cut a 24-point deficit to 36-22. Wilson, once more, pushed the Gamecocks forward with two foul shots and a pair of baskets to restore the 20-point margin.
Wilson, the two-time Southeastern Conference player of the year, made 10 of 20 shots. She also had three steals and a block as the Gamecocks beat Charleston for a ninth straight time.
Alexis Jennings had 12 points for South Carolina while freshman guard Bianca Jackson had 10 rebounds.
Darien Huff had 10 points to lead Charleston.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks can count on Wilson and Alexis Jennings to get them through games with overmatched opponents like College of Charleston. They'll need their experienced, injured guards in Bianca Cuevas-Moore and Lindsey Spann to get healthy and their younger, inexperienced players to take several steps forward when Southeastern Conference play arrives later this month.
College of Charleston: The Cougars, who were 9-21 a year ago, have been already been pummeled this season by a Power Five opponent in Michigan State (107-43), although they showed some spark in the second half to close the gap a bit before the Gamecocks again took control. Charleston plays at Wake Forest in two weeks before opening play in the Colonial Athletic Association. Expect more struggles for Charleston as nine of its 14 players are underclassmen.
QUOTABLE DAWN STALEY
On the importance of getting off to good starts in games
"Pretty good. You know, the amount of times spent on getting up to a fast start in the beginning of the game and in the third quarter, those are areas that are stressers for us because we are inconsistent in those areas. When we start the game off with two turnovers back-to-back, its usually a good sign of how the day is going to go. So, we've got to clean that up."
• College of Charleston's 10 points in the opening 20 minutes marked the lowest scoring output in a half for a Carolina opponent this season.
• Carolina has won each of its five home games this season by an average margin of 41.2 points. All five victories have come by at least 20 points.
• Gamecock guard Tyasha Harris has averaged 4.3 steals over Carolina's last three games. The sophomore logged a game-high five steals in the win over the Cougars.
• Bianca Jackson grabbed 10 boards Tuesday to become the first Gamecock freshman to total double-digit rebounds in a game since A'ja Wilson tallied 19 at Kentucky on March 1, 2015.
• Carolina's 10 blocks against College of Charleston equaled a season high for the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks quickly built momentum and a double-digit advantage after closing the opening quarter on a 17-3 run to head into the first break with a 19-6 lead. Carolina senior forward A'ja Wilson outscored the Cougars 12-6 for the period.
Carolina set the tone on the defensive end early, holding the Cougars to just 16.7 percent shooting (2-of-12) in the first quarter. College of Charleston scored just single digits in each of the first two periods Tuesday.