HONOLULU, Hawaii – No. 2/2 South Carolina used a strong fourth quarter to pull away from the persistent CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners 90-71 on the second day of action in the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown. Sophomore forward A’ja Wilson tied her career highs in points (26) and assists (4), while sophomore guard Bianca Cuevas delivered 20 points and six assists as the duo combined to score 19 of the Gamecocks’ 26 fourth-quarter points.
The Gamecocks were firing out of the gate, hitting their first four shots for an early 9-2 lead, but a 1-of-6 stretch helped the Roadrunners get within five at 13-8 midway through the first quarter. While the frontcourt handled the glass, South Carolina’s guards went to work distancing CSUB. Mitchell hit a pair of free throws to launch an 14-6 run that included her drive to the basket, a pull-up jumper from Bianca Cuevas and a Mitchell step back to put the Gamecocks up 27-14 by the end of the quarter.
In the second period, the Roadrunners buried a pair of 3s to open the half, but A’ja Wilson and Alaina Coates went to work inside to keep the Gamecocks’ lead in double digits. CSUB’s Batabe Zempare and Alexxus Gilbert combined to outscore South Carolina 13-9 over the final 5:00 of the half to make it a 45-37 game at the break.
The second half got off to a slow start with the Roadrunners drawing within four at 41-45, but quick substitutions led to a renewed energy on defense that found its way to the offense as well with Cuevas and Shay Colley helping the Gamecocks to a 64-57 lead heading into the final period.
After a Dajy Vines jumper made it a 66-61 Gamecock lead, Cuevas and Wilson got the Gamecock offense on track in the fourth quarter. In a role reversal, Wilson fed Cuevas on back-to-back possessions as the sophomore forward was double-teamed with each touch of the ball. An Erika Williams baseline drive briefly interrupted what would become a 14-2 run, but Wilson went right back to work finding Coates diving to the rim for a 72-63 South Carolina edge with 6:07 to play. The Roadrunners misfired on their first shot on the other end, and Tina Roy buried a 3-pointer to again make it a double-digit Gamecock advantage. Back-to-back turnovers by the Roadrunners led to a pair of free throws from Tiffany Mitchell and a traditional three-point play from Wilson that gave the Gamecocks what proved to be an insurmountable lead at 80-63 with 3:53 to play.
Mitchell joined Wilson and Cuevas in double figures with 13 points, 11 of which came in the first half. Wilson led the way on the glass with eight rebounds with Roy, Imovbioh and White contributing five each.
Sophomore forward A’ja Wilson sparked the offense with her ability to see out of a double-team early in the fourth quarter. The handed out three of her career high four assists on consecutive possessions to help turn a five-point lead into a nine-point advantage in the opening four minutes of the period.
South Carolina shot 54.7 percent (35-of-64 from the field, including 69.2 percent (9-of-13) in the fourth quarter.
- Sophomore forward A’ja Wilson handed out a career-high four assists, including on three straight plays during 9-2 fourth-quarter run to help Gamecocks pull away.
- The five Gamecocks who came off the bench – Shay Colley, Bianca Cuevas, Sarah Imovbioh, Asia Dozier and Jatarie White – combined for 34 points on 65.2 percent shooting (15-of-23), 16 rebounds and nine assists.
- Cuevas scored nine of her 20 points in the fourth quarter, handing out three of her six assists in the final period as well.
The Gamecocks wrap up play at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown on Sunday, taking on host Hawaii at 10 p.m. (ET).