South Carolina forward Ashlyn Watkins dunks during a game on Thursday, becoming the team’s first player ever and just the ninth female in NCAA basketball history. Sideline, Inc. and Travis Bell
CLEMSON — Zia Cooke scored 15 focuses and Aliyah Boston added 12 focuses and six bounce back in No. 1 South Carolina’s 85-31 triumph over Clemson on Thursday. It was the Gamecocks’ twelfth straight success over their opponent and empowered them to take a 34-33 lead in the general series.
Five-star rookie Ashlyn Watkins had 14 focuses, including a final quarter, one-gave dunk that brought the South Carolina seat to its feet in the festival. She turned into the principal player in program history to dunk and simply the 10th lady to do it in a game.
The Gamecocks (3-0) utilized covering guard and on-sport shooting to take care of the Tigers (3-1) with a 16-2 disagreement in the initial time frame to assume command. The defending national champions outscored their opponent 64 percent to 7 of 27 in the opening 20 minutes, leading 46-16 at the half. Clemson had no answers for them.
The Clemson highlight came very early on when Brie Perpignan’s basket gave the Tigers a 5-2 lead after less than two minutes. After then, South Carolina started to pull ahead by hitting seven straight shots. When South Carolina travels to No. 2 Stanford on Sunday for a preseason matchup, things will get much tougher.
After a collision in the first quarter, Cooke slowly got up and headed to the bench. But she returned and completed her flawless half (she was 4-of-4) when she sank a 3-pointer just before the first quarter’s buzzer to conclude it after a few minutes with a muscle-loosening gadget on her left leg. The defense of South Carolina was excellent the entire time. Clemson has won its first three games while averaging 71 points per contest and shooting over 48 percent from the field.
However, the Tigers faltered and failed to convert on 16 of their 18 second-quarter tries. In any of Amanda Butler’s five seasons as Clemson’s head coach, the team scored the fewest points in a game.
In this one, South Carolina, which prefers precise outside shooting over stifling defense, had both. In the opening 20 minutes, the Gamecocks hit all five of their 3-point attempts while shooting 68 percent.
Just before halftime, 30-point advantage, even 6-foot-2 forward Victoria Saxton, noted for her inside the game, joined the shooting party with her first collegiate 3-pointer in three tries.
Cooke, Boston, Brea Beal, and Saxton—all starters on the team that won the NCAA championship the previous year—sat out the game’s final period because it was already won.
The large picture
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have started the season strong, winning each of their first three games by an average margin of 54 points, including an 81-56 victory at then-No. 17 Maryland last week. They’ll want that once again if they want to defeat Stanford, who fell to the Gamecocks 65-61 last year.
Clemson: The Tigers have dropped their previous four contests against rival South Carolina by an average score of 33 points (the teams didn’t meet during the COVID-19 season in 2020–21). This season, Clemson will face tough competition in the dominant ACC. In the conference’s preseason poll, the Tigers were ranked number 12.