No. 1 South Carolina downs Missouri

No. 1 South Carolina downs Missouri
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley gestures during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Maryland, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass) (Source: Nick Wass)

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) Aliyah Boston and Victaria Saxon each had 10 points and 10 rebounds to lead No. 1 South Carolina to a 78-45 victory over Missouri on Thursday night.

Zia Cooke and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan scored 14 each for the Gamecocks (17-1, 5-0 Southeastern Conference), who played their first game since taking over the top spot in the AP Top 25. South Carolina exploited its size advantage, grabbing 37 offensive rebounds and holding a 62-31 edge in total rebounds.

Aijha Blackwell scored 13 points to lead the Tigers (4-14, 1-4). Missouri shot just 27.3%.

After a sluggish start, the Gamecocks started to pull away in the second quarter, outscoring the Tigers 18-3 in the last six minutes of the first half for a 35-17 lead.

Defensively, the Gamecocks blocked eight shots. They smothered Amber Smith, who leads Missouri in scoring by averaging 13 points. Smith didn't score until the final minute of the third quarter and finished with four points on 1-of-8 shooting.

South Carolina's Tyasha Harris finished with 11 points and five assists and became the second player in program history to surpass 1,000 points and 600 assists in a career. She joined Cristina Ciocan, who accomplished the feat from 2000-04.

GAMECHANGER

After struggling to find an offensive rhythm in the first quarter, the Gamecocks turned it on in the second, closing the half on an 18-3 run over the final 6:01 to take a 35-17 lead into halftime.

KEY STAT

The Gamecocks dominated the glass on Thursday, out-rebounding the Tigers 62-31. The 62 rebounds ties the second-highest total under Staley, and the plus-31 margin ties the third largest margin since Staley took over in Columbia.

NOTABLES

• The Gamecocks stifled Missouri in the opening quarter, holding the Tigers to seven points, the eighth time Carolina has held an opponent to single digits in the opening frame.

• Carolina improved to 5-0 in SEC with the win, the best start in conference play for the Garnet and Black since the 2016-17 squad notched an 8-0 start.

• The Gamecocks controlled the boards all night, pulling down 62, tied for the second highest total under coach Staley, and out-rebounding by 31. The 25 offensive rebounds tallied by Carolina is a season high.

• Mikiah Herbert Harrigan tied for game-high honors with 14 points. She is now 11 points away from joining the 1,000-point club.

• Zia Cooke also tied for game-high honors with 14 points. The freshman has either led or tied for the team high in scoring in every SEC game this season.

• Tyasha Harris poured in 11 points and dished out five assists, pushing her career total to 603. Harris is now one of two players in program history to score 1,000 points and tally 600 assists.

• Aliyah Boston earned her seventh double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

• Victaria Saxton finished with the first double-double of her career with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

• Brea Beal had a quiet night offensively, but the freshman pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds.

• This is the first game in which three Gamecocks cracked double figures in rebounding since A'ja Wilson, Alaina Coates and Sarah Imovbioh did it against Ohio State (Nov. 13, 2015).

UP NEXT

The Gamecocks (17-1, 5-0 SEC) return to Columbia for a showdown against No. 10/9 Mississippi State on Mon., Jan. 20. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena, and the game airs live on ESPN 2.