NCAAW: South Carolina Gamecocks makes super statement in win over LSU

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After Aliyah Boston blocked an Alexis Morris fast-break layup attempt with 5:25 remaining and Boston’s No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks up 75-57 on Morris’ No. 3 LSU Tigers, Morris got up from the floor and patted Boston on the back.

Morris would finish with a game-high 23 points, but previously-unbeaten LSU would fall 88-64 to the Gamecocks, who are now the last remaining undefeated team in the nation, on Super Bowl Sunday afternoon in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,000 at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia.

The Gamecocks (25-0, 12-0 SEC) won the biggest game of the day in their eyes and the biggest game of the season in the NCAAW to this point by a whopping 24 points. Kamilla Cardoso led the way with 18 points (7-of-9 from the field), 13 rebounds and three blocks, while Boston added 14, nine and three. Brea Beal made a deep, contested three at the buzzer of the third that made things comfortable for good and finished with 11 points, seven boards and four assists. Zia Cooke got things going for the winners and was one shy of the team high in scoring with 17 points.

South Carolina ended Angel Reese’s 23 game double-double streak, holding LSU’s superstar to single digits in every category but points, including just four rebounds. Reese had 16 points and four rejections, but was 5-of-15 from the field.

After Boston opened the second half with an inside score, LSU (23-1, 11-1 SEC) went on a 6-0 run to cut it to 44-38. A little later, a Reese layup cut it to five (45-40). But that’s as close as the Tigers would get the rest of the way. They cut it to seven with a Sa’Myah Smith layup at the 4:23 mark of the third before South Carolina closed the frame on a 13-4 run to lead 64-48 entering the fourth.

Boston started the run with a layup, which was followed by two Cooke free throws. A little later, Cardoso went on a 4-0 individual run to make it 59-46. Beal closed the run with her key triple, which was perhaps the biggest play of the game.

Cardoso went on to score 12 of the Gamecocks’ 24 points in the fourth. A 5-0 individual run by her built a 20-point lead at 75-55 with 6:02 to play. After her layup that made it 77-57 with 4:34 remaining, the team led by at least 20 the rest of the way.

South Carolina got the crowd going with an 18-2 run to open the game. But LSU would fight back.

Morris seemed set on taking every shot for the Tigers for a stretch and she was single-handedly carrying them. She scored their first eight points of the second quarter, outscoring the Gamecocks by four over that stretch to cut it to 28-23. LaDazhia Williams then faked a mid-range shot and finished with a layup to cut it to three, which was the closest LSU got in the second. Cooke answered that with a short bank make and then Cardoso dropped in a layup off an offensive rebound to make it 32-25 South Carolina.

Later in the second, Boston made a layup while triple-teamed and added a free throw for a 3-point play that made it 37-29. Laeticia Amihere closed the frame with a layup that put the Gamecocks up 42-32 at the break.

Cooke came out looking to make explosive plays. Boston won the opening tip and immediately got it to Cooke for a layup. Cooke later made a beautiful baseline drive for a reverse layup that made it 8-2. She also closed the 18-2 run by driving all the way up the court — right through LSU’s defense — for a layup.

Beal hit a three and followed with a 3-point play for a 6-0 individual run that took the score to 14-2 Gamecocks.

The Tigers went on a 6-0 run to cut it to 18-8 and later Morris made a three to cut it to 19-13. Cooke answered that with a mid-range make that made it 21-13. South Carolina led 24-15 after one.

The Gamecocks attempted just six threes and Beal (2-of-3) had both of their makes. LSU was 1-of-5 from beyond the arc. South Carolina overcame a poor 16-of-28 showing at the stripe. The Tigers got to the line a lot less; they were 11-of-15. The Gamecocks won field goal percentage 57.4 to 40, rebounds 43-25, bench points 34-15 and assists 14-5. Cardoso accounted for the majority of the bench points; Raven Johnson added 10 and Amihere had six.

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