No. 1 South Carolina women pull away from Mississippi, 71-57
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — South Carolina took over late in a tight game away from the comforts of home, something that could be good practice for the postseason.
Destanni Henderson tied her career high with 23 points and Aliyah Boston had 15 points and 14 rebounds to lead No. 1 South Carolina to a 71-57 win over Mississippi in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Boston extended her record streak of double-doubles to 21 for the Gamecocks (27-1, 15-1 Southeastern Conference), who had already clinched the regular-season title and No. 1 seed entering the league tournament in Nashville.
“I think we’re hitting our stride,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said.
Her players found themselves in a tough game until a dominant closing stretch against the Rebels (22-7, 10-6), who had won four straight. Then South Carolina put it away with a 12-0 run.
“The game calls for our players to rise to the occasion,” Staley said. “If we don’t hunker down defensively, create some turnovers and turn them into some easy transition buckets, Ole Miss could have made it a long afternoon for us.”
Shakira Austin led Ole Miss with 20 points and seven rebounds and scored all of the Rebels’ eight points in the fourth. She made 8 of 14 shots.
“I thought we ran out of gas in the fourth quarter,” Ole Miss coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said. “I thought South Carolina did a great job with just continuing to play at a level that would give them the victory, and that’s why they’re the No. 1 team in the nation.”
South Carolina had run away with the first meeting, 69-40 a month earlier.
Henderson had previously scored 23 against Gonzaga in November 2020. She also had eight assists on Sunday.
Boston had broken the SEC record with her 20th straight double-double Thursday night against Texas A&M.
Zia Cooke scored 12 points and Brea Beal had 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists for the Gamecocks.
Lashonda Monk scored 16 for Ole Miss and Angel Baker chipped in 11. Mimi Reid didn’t score but her five assists gave her a fourth straight season with 100-plus.
Ole Miss cut a seven-point halftime deficit down to 42-39 on a jump shot by Monk two minutes into the third quarter. Then the Rebels twice pulled to within four points early in the fourth before South Carolina scored 12 straight points to push its lead to double digits for the first time.
The Rebels went more than six minutes without a field goal in the fourth.
South Carolina was missing center Kamilla Cardoso because of an upper-body injury, but Staley said she doesn’t “really see it keeping her out” of the tournament.
Ole Miss wilted down the stretch but was competitive for more than three quarters. The Rebels shot 23 of 61 (37.7%) and fell to 2-5 against ranked teams.
South Carolina doubled up Ole Miss 16-8 in the fourth and won its 15th straight overall and against the Rebels.
McPhee-McCuin tried to contain her emotions in the seniors’ final home game.
“I ended up crying like a little baby,” she said, “because of how much the seniors mean to me personally.”
Both teams head to Nashville for the SEC Tournament, where the Gamecocks figure to be sizable favorites. They’ve won six of the last seven. Both teams have double byes.
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