OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Bianca Cuevas scored a career-high 21 points and No. 1 South Carolina beat Mississippi 77-59 on Sunday.
South Carolina (21-0, 9-0 Southeastern Conference) got off to a slow start, trailing by nine points in the first half, before rallying to take a 36-29 halftime lead.
Cuevas, a 5-foot-6 freshman who comes off the bench, gave the Gamecocks a spark during their first-half struggles with nine points in only 7 minutes.
Tiffany Mitchell and A’ja Wilson each scored 11 points, and Elem Ibiam and Alaina Coates had10 apiece. South Carolina backups combined for 43 points.
Ole Miss (14-8, 4-5) has lost four straight. Erika Sisk and Shandricka Sessom both scored 12 points to lead the Rebels. Tia Faleru led all players with 13 rebounds.
The Gamecocks struggled to score early, shooting 10 of 26 (38.5 percent) in the first half.
They trailed for a large chunk of the half, but an 8-0 run just before halftime gave the Gamecocks the 36-29 halftime advantage. South Carolina took advantage of Ole Miss’ foul trouble — the Rebels had 17 fouls in the first half.
Ole Miss managed to stay within striking distance until early in the second half. Faleru — the Rebels’ leading scorer and rebounder — went to the bench with four fouls with more than 16 minutes left in the game.
Without the 6-foot-1 senior, the Rebels didn’t have much chance to stop South Carolina’s inside game. The Gamecocks knew it, continually feeding the post for easy layups.
Cuevas — who came into Sunday’s game averaging just 5.5 points — added some outside scoring. She’s steadily improved as the season has progressed, earning a more prominent role in the process.
South Carolina shot 14 of 25 (56 percent) in the second half to slowly pull away for the relatively easy victory.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks made just three of their first 15 shots from the field. They closed the first half by making 7 of 11.
Ole Miss: The Rebels are 1-13 against top-ranked teams. Faleru came into the game averaging a team-high 15 points, but didn’t score until more than 30 minutes into the game. Ole Miss shot just 8 of 22 (36.4 percent) on free throws.
South Carolina: At Georgia on Thursday night.
Ole Miss: At Vanderbilt on Thursday night
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