COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP)Dawn Staley wanted to get South Carolina star Aliyah Boston back to playing strong and get another double-double. Mission halfway accomplished.
Kamilla Cardoso scored 16 points and Boston had 13 and nine rebounds to lead the top-ranked Gamecocks to their 13th straight win over Auburn, 94-42, on Thursday night.
A big part of Staley’s game plan was to get her star player playing like a star once more after Boston was held to single-digit points and rebounds in South Carolina’s first two SEC games.
Boston played just 19 minutes in the 76-34 romp over Texas A&M and was swarmed by as many as four defenders by Georgia in the Gamecocks’ 68-51 victory on Monday.
”We made a concerted effort to get her the ball, get all of our post players the ball,” Staley said. ”And it worked tonight.”
Boston connected on five of her seven attempts – including her first 3-pointer of the season. But Boston remained in during part of the fourth quarter, chasing the elusive 10th rebound that typically falls into her hands.
”Yeah,” Staley said.
Part of Boston’s near-miss may have been the success of her teammates under the basket. There were eight Gamecocks with three or more rebounds, including 5-foot-9 Kierra Fletcher, who had five boards.
”I love rebounding,” Fletcher said. ”Me and Aliyah joke around all the time that I steal rebounds from the post” players.
The Gamecocks (15-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) won their 21st straight overall, dating to their successful run to an NCAA Tournament title last season.
Victaria Saxton had 12 points and Zia Cooke, coming off a career high 31 in a win at Georgia last Monday, was the fourth South Carolina player in double figures with 10 points.
Boston finished with four of her team’s nine blocked shots.
South Carolina kept pouring it on after taking control, leading by 32 points at the half and 44 after three quarters.
Auburn coach Johnnie Harris said South Carolina has multiple ways to attack opponents.
”If they’re all on and they’re hitting, there’s not much you can do about it,” she said.
Aicha Coulibaly had 16 points to lead Auburn (10-5, 0-3), which hasn’t beaten the Gamecocks since a 53-49 win at home in January 2012.
Auburn: The Tigers were without their leading scorer, Honesty Scott-Grayson, who missed her third straight game with an injury. Without Scott-Grayson’s 15 points per game, Auburn couldn’t hope to keep close to the powerhouse Gamecocks.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks, among the country’s top rebounding teams, got just eight boards on the offensive glass compared to Auburn’s 12. Part of the reason may be South Carolina’s best shooting performance this season as it hit on 36 of 57 shots (63%).
Kierra Fletcher was brought it to give South Carolina experience at the point with last year’s starter, Destanni Henderson, off to the WNBA. Fletcher believes she’s feeling more comfortable with every outing. Along with her five rebounds, Fletcher had five assists and just one turnover in 20 minutes. She also got a text from her father about her improved play. ”He said it looks like I’m playing more settled in as well,” she said.
Auburn returns home to play rival Alabama on Sunday.
South Carolina starts a two-game road trip at Mississippi State on Sunday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25