Just over 48 hours after picking up its biggest win of the 2022-23 season in a thrilling 76-71 overtime triumph at Stanford, there was no letdown for South Carolina women’s basketball. The No. 1 Gamecocks took a bus ride three hours down to take on Cal Poly for the fourth and final game of the road trip, and handled the Mustangs 79-36 to complete the trip unscathed.
While it was business as usual for South Carolina (5-0) as a whole, it was a little bit of a bounceback night for a few players who struggled in Palo Alto. In particular, Victaria Saxton got things going for herself after a frustrating performance where she struggled with Stanford’s size and only scored two points in 18 minutes on Sunday. This time, Saxton was the first player to reach double-figures and closed out the game with 19 points.
Zia Cooke also never fully found her shot against Stanford going 3-of-13 from the floor, but she added in 11 points including a third quarter 3-pointer. Aliyah Boston followed up her heroics against Stanford with a much calmer performance, but still had a double-double secured early in the fourth quarter and was able to take the final frame off.
One thing that did carry over from Sunday was an extended run on defense without surrendering a made field goal, although this time it happened much earlier. After holding Stanford without a shot from the floor for nearly eight minutes to start the fourth quarter, this time Cal Poly did not score until the final mintue of the first quarter.
At the other end, a quick four points from Kierra Fletcher got the offense going and it led 14-0 before the Mustangs finally converted. Fletcher got the start at point guard for the third game in a row and finsihed the game with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting and five rebounds.
There was a little bit of a second quarter lull as Cal Poly followed up its two-point quarter by putting up 15 in the second quarter, goign blow-for-blow with the top-ranked team in the nation and even causing some frustration with turnovers and tight defense.
After beating East Tennessee State by 70 and Clemson by 54 to account for two early season blowout wins, the lead only stood at 15 points through the early stages of the third quarter.
Then the switch flipped, and Dawn Staley’s team scored 40 of the next 45 points.
Most of it happened in the paint, where South Carolina scored 58 of its 79 total points for the game. Laeticia Amihere and Ashlyn Watkins both reached double-figures during a 24-0 run, and Amihere was a perfect 6-of-6 shooting to reach her 13 points.
With its longest road trip of the season now behind it, the Gamecocks will finally end a 20-day hiatus from Colonial Life Arena with a four-game homestand which will last 15 days itself, starting on Sunday with a noon tip-off against Hampton.
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