Cooke, reserves lead No. 1 South Carolina women over Liberty
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Zia Cooke scored a season-high 20 points and No. 1 South Carolina, boosted by coach Dawn Staley’s early substitutions, beat Liberty 88-39 on Sunday.
The Gamecocks (9-0) returned from a week-long break for exams.
Not liking what she saw from her starting five, Staley brought in five reserves in the first quarter. That broke the malaise as the Gamecocks immediately padded their margin with an 11-4 run on the way to a 42-22 halftime lead.
The starting lineup returned in the second half and kept up the pressure. The Flames were held to six points in the third quarter as the Gamecocks’ lead increased to 35.
Reserve forward Sania Feagin added a career-high 14 points for the Gamecocks.
Mya Berkman led Liberty (3-5) with 17 points.
- Birthday Baller: Aliyah Boston celebrated her 21st with 13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, a block and a steal
- Zia Cooke posted a new season high 20 points (the first of 20+ points of the season), tallying 8 in the second quarter and 10 in the third
- Defense was hot, keeping Liberty to just 4-15 in the second period and forcing seven turnovers
- The Gamecocks’ 11-0 start to the second half saw two consecutive buckets from Cooke, followed by a 3 from Brea Beal and another two straight layups from Boston
- South Carolina out-scored the Lady Flames 25-6 in the third quarter with four of Liberty’s points coming from free throws
- Sania Feagin exploded off the bench, putting up 12 of the team’s 21 points in the fourth quarter, finishing with a season-high 14 and tying her career high with three blocks
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