COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Tiffany Mitchell and A’ja Wilson had 20 points apiece as No. 1 South Carolina capped an eventful week with an 89-59 victory over Vanderbilt on Sunday to stay perfect in Southeastern Conference play.
The Gamecocks (24-1, 12-0 SEC) followed a blowout loss at No. 2 Connecticut on Monday with two consecutive decisive victories in league play, following up an 82-62 win over LSU on Thursday night with their sixth straight win over the Commodores (13-12, 4-8).
Mitchell, the defending SEC player of the year, sparked South Carolina with 15 first-half points while the 6-foot-5 freshman Wilson kept the pressure on inside as she made 10 of 11 from the foul line.
It was a rousing finish to 12 weeks at No. 1 for South Carolina with voters expected to return UConn to the top spot when the latest rankings come out Monday.
Rebekah Dalhman led Vanderbilt with 13 points before fouling out.
Mitchell, fifth in SEC scoring at 14.8 points a game coming in, reached 20 points for the fourth time this year, but just the first in SEC play.
Wilson had a career high 26 points in the win over LSU this past Thursday.
Alaina Coates added 14 points for the Gamecocks, who won their 30th straight game at home — the country’s second longest streak behind Connecticut.
South Carolina rebounded strongly after the UConn debacle and hoped to continue that against Vanderbilt. Yet, only Mitchell seemed to get the wakeup call.
Mitchell hit four straight shots, two of her buckets off steals, yet the Gamecocks were tied with Vanderbilt at 15-all after Dahlman’s basket with 11:29 to go.
That’s when South Carolina took off on a 31-12 surge the rest of the half. Mitchell got it going with a jumper then added her sixth straight basket to push the lead to 22-17.
Wilson had an inside jumper and a three-point play to increase the lead and when Mitchell scored off another steal, the Gamecocks were up 38-23 and cruising.
Mitchell finished the half with 15 points and Wilson 13 on 7-of-7 shooting from the foul line.
Vanderbilt, which averages 20 turnovers a game, had 13 in the opening half, falling prey to the quick hands of South Carolina defenders. The Gamecocks had 10 steals in the period, surpassing their game average of nine.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores had limited opponents to 31 rebounds a game which ranks No. 1 in the SEC. That broke down against the Gamecocks, who collected 43 boards.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks lead the SEC in several categories, most notably scoring offense (76.7 points a game) and scoring defense (53.6 points a game). They are also tops in the league in field goal percentage and field goal defense.
Vanderbilt plays at Florida on Thursday night.
South Carolina travels to Arkansas on Thursday night.
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