A'ja Wilson scored 21 points and had nine rebounds to lead No. 7 South Carolina to a 79-66 victory over Alabama on Thursday night.
The Gamecocks (19-5, 8-3 Southeastern Conference) shot 67 percent in the first half to build a 15-point lead. They were coming off losses against the nation's top two teams, No. 1 UConn and No. 2 Mississippi State, but were in control against the Crimson Tide (14-10, 4-7) over the final three quarters of this one.
Wilson didn't score in the first 15 minutes but largely had her way inside when she starting getting the ball regularly. She made 8 of 10 shots.
Tyasha Harris had 17 points and five assists for the Gamecocks. Harris had 12 points by halftime when she made both 3-point attempts and all six foul shots.
Bianca Jackson scored 10 points.
Hannah Cook and Shaquera Wade both scored 13 points for Alabama. Jasmine Walker finished with 12.
South Carolina scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to push its lead to 19 points. Then Alabama got hot, making four straight shots and cutting it to 71-63 on a steal and layup by Amber Richardson with 3:10 left. The Tide couldn't get any closer.
The Gamecocks fell behind by seven points in the first quarter before starting a 20-2 tear extending into the second. Jackson's steal and layup with two seconds left gave South Carolina its first lead, 21-20.
By halftime, it was 45-30, though Alabama managed to whittle a few points off the margin in the third.
• The Gamecocks remained unbeaten (14-0) against Alabama under coach Dawn Staley following Thursday’s victory.
• Carolina finished the contest 20-of-27 from the line, connecting on 20 or more free throws for the fifth time this season.
• Gamecock senior forward A’ja Wilson scored 16 of her game-high 21 points in the second half. The Hopkins, S.C., native boasts 13 20-point games this season.
• Carolina freshman guard Bianca Jackson finished with 10 points to go with four rebounds and three assists. Jackson has reached double figures in three of her last five games.
A 20-2 run that stretched from the first quarter to the second period turned a seven-point deficit into a 31-20 advantage for Carolina with 7:33 to play in the opening half. Five Gamecocks registered points during the pivotal stretch.
The Gamecocks received 17 points off the bench, including nine from sophomore forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan. Thursday marked the most bench points for Carolina since its win over Kentucky (Jan. 21) when the Gamecocks netted 34 from non-starters. A’ja Wilson scored a game-high 26 points off the bench in the victory over the Wildcats.
Carolina is back in action this weekend when it hosts Florida on Sun., Feb. 11. Tipoff from Colonial Life Arena is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET, and the game will air on SEC Network.