SAN ANTONIO (AP) Aliyah Boston scored 19 points and top seed South Carolina dominated after a close first quarter to beat eighth-seeded Oregon State 59-42 in the women’s NCAA Tournament, advancing to its seventh straight Sweet 16.
The Gamecocks (24-4) led by a point after one quarter but had built a 12-point lead by halftime and were up 53-29 by the start of the fourth.
’'This is a huge lift off of our shoulders because that was a hard game,’' coach Dawn Staley said. ’'I know the score doesn’t say that. But ... Oregon State is a really good, efficient basketball team. If you allow them to do what they set out to do, they’re very good at it.’'
South Carolina, which won a national title in 2017, improved to 8-1 in the second round under Staley and will appear in the regional semifinals for the 11th time overall.
’'Our players didn’t want to pack and head home,’' Staley said. ’'They wanted to stay a little bit longer. A lot of them, this is their first tournament experience ... and the deeper we go in this tournament, the more experience we have, the better off we’ll be this year as well as in years to come.’'
Taylor Jones scored 13 points for Oregon State (12-8), which ended a streak of four straight Sweet 16 appearances. Jones fouled out with about three minutes remaining.
Staley’s plan was to get Jones into foul trouble - and it worked, with Jones limited to 18 minutes.
’'We would have been in trouble because she could have erased the lead that we had with just her production,’' Staley said.
South Carolina made just 1 of 15 3-pointers, but was able to control the game by outscoring the Beavers 34-24 inside and winning big on the boards.
The Gamecocks used a big run to break a tie and lead by 12 at halftime. Boston scored the first four points in that span and Laeticia Amihere added six points as South Carolina took advantage of six turnovers.
’'We just keep pushing,’' Boston said. ’'We never stop attacking, no matter who it is.’'
Oregon State managed just five points on 2-of-12 shooting and had seven turnovers in the second quarter.
’'They were disruptive all day, closed gaps really quickly defensively,’' Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. ’'During a key stretch of that second quarter (they) turned us over, turned it into quick points at the other end, which is obviously a staple and a hallmark of what they do. It’s when they’re at their best.’'
The Gamecocks continued to pile on to start the second half, outscoring Oregon State 13-3 in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the third to make it 43-21.
’'They took away what we wanted to do on offense,’' Oregon state guard Aleah Goodman said. ’'We just weren’t really ourselves. It’s a bummer. It’s hard to go out like that.’'
After Oregon State took a 15-14 lead with 8:54 remaining in the second quarter the Gamecocks locked in defensively for the remainder of the half, closing on a 15-4 run fueled by four steals among five Oregon State turnovers to take a 30-18 lead into halftime.
The Gamecocks shut down the Oregon State offense in the second quarter, forcing the Beavers to go 2-of-12 (.167) from the field after shooting 40 percent from the field in the first quarter.
With the win South Carolina advances to the Sweet 16 for the seventh consecutive tournament dating back to 2014. It marks the 11th Sweet 16 birth in program history.
The Gamecocks battled through Oregon State’s size to control the glass, outrebounding the Beavers 50-32, and dominated on the offensive boards with a 14-5 advantage.
Crucial to the early rebounding effort was sophomore Brea Beal, who finished the night with a team-high and her season-high 11 boards, including six in the first quarter.
Sophomore Aliyah Boston came out strong with an eight-point first quarter on her way to a game-high 19 points. The sophomore snagged seven rebounds as well.
Junior Destanni Henderson finished with 12 points, a new NCAA Tournament career high. Henderson scored four points in each of the first, second and third quarters, with her second quarter points coming during Carolina’s game-changing run to close the half.
Sophomore Zia Cooke jumpstarted the South Carolina run in the second quarter, scoring four points in the period and finishing with 10 points and five rebounds.
Junior Victaria Saxton made her presence known all over the floor on Tuesday, finishing with seven points, six rebounds and five blocks, tying her career high for blocked shots.
Sophomore Laeticia Amihere was huge during South Carolina’s second-quarter run, scoring five of her eight points during the surge. Amihere finished with eight points and nine rebounds.