MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A’ja Wilson came off the bench for 17 points and 10 rebounds to get her second career double-double and No. 1 South Carolina cruised past Liberty 84-44 Sunday.
Aleighsa Welch scored 15 points and Tiffany Mitchell added 14 for the Gamecocks (12-0), who have 12 days off before beginning Southeastern Conference play. Simone Brown led the Lady Flames (6-5) with 12 points. Ashley Rininger and Karly Buer each added 10.
The win, at the Subway Classic being hosted by the University of Minnesota, allowed the Gamecocks to tie the school-record win streak of 12 set during the 2001-02 and 1979-80 seasons.
After a slow start, the Gamecocks dominated.
Trailing 12-11 nearly 7 minutes into the game, South Carolina was able to get the ball inside to spark a 16-0 run and take control. The 6-foot-5 Wilson had a pair of 3-point plays during the spurt and Welch, a 6-footer, added four points.
Using their height advantage and quickness, the Gamecocks finished with a 40-24 advantage in points in the paint and held a 46-30 rebounding edge.
Three-pointers by Asia Dozier and Mitchell keyed a 13-4 run for a 44-20 halftime lead for the Gamecocks. Elem Ibiam, a 6-foot-4 center, had four points down low in the surge.
An inside move by Welch and fast-break layup by Mitchell stretched the lead to 57-28 6 minutes into the second half. Five points by Wilson and four points by Alaina Coates keyed a 15-0 South Carolina run for a 72-36 lead about 6 minutes later.
Coates and Ibiam each finished with 11 points.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks shot 48 percent from the field. They entered the game shooting 49.1 percent — eighth best in the nation. … South Carolina was 17 of 26 from the free-throw line.
Liberty: Brown has scored in double figures in six straight games. … The Lady Flames faced the nation’s No. 1 team for the first time since March 14, 1998, when top-ranked Tennessee defeated Liberty 102-58 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
MITCHELL GETS MILESTONE
Mitchell’s fifth point of the game early in the first half gave the junior guard 1,000 career points, joining Welch at the milestone. The last time South Carolina had a pair of 1,000-point scorers on the same team was 2001-02 with Shaunzinski Gortman and Jocelyn Pennboth.
South Carolina is home against Auburn Jan. 2.
Liberty is at UNC Asheville Dec. 30.
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