MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Tiffany Mitchell withstood a bloody nose and a tough assignment in Crystal Bradford to help No. 1 South Carolina beat Central Michigan 80-45 on Saturday in the Minnesota Subway Classic.
The Gamecocks are off to the best start in program history at 11-0, one win shy of tying the school record for consecutive wins in a season. Coach Dawn Staley, a former WNBA star, has the Gamecocks on top of their game in her seventh season.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Staley said. “We’re really proud of our players to be one of a few teams still undefeated.”
Mitchell, the reigning Southeastern Conference player of year, briefly caused a delay in the game when she took a hit to the nose about 14 minutes into the game, drawing blood. Mitchell returned and finished with 18 points, five steals and four rebounds in a scoring bout with Bradford, the reigning Mid-American Conference Player of the year, who finished with 20 points for Central Michigan (4-4).
Alaina Coates added 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting and had 10 rebounds for South Carolina.
South Carolina outscored the Chippewas 43-21 after halftime.
“I felt in the second half we took better care of the ball,” Staley said. “Once we did that, we were able to open the lead up.”
No. 3 Texas (9-0) and No. 4 Texas A&M (11-0) join the Gamecocks as the only undefeated top-10 teams. If South Carolina wins on Sunday, they’ll be one of two as the Longhorns and Aggies tipoff in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
South Carolina: Despite turning the ball over 12 times in the first half, the Gamecocks took a 37-22 lead by scoring all but six of the first 30 points in the paint. Mitchell led a flurry of fastbreak layups, while 6-foot-5-inch A’ja Wilson used her height to score 12 points off the bench.
Central Michigan: Bradford made as many field goals (5) as the rest of her teammates heading into intermission.
South Carolina: Faces Liberty on Sunday in final of tournament.
Central Michigan: Faces host Minnesota on Sunday.