USC Women Win, Wilson Hurt

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USC Athletics

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – A’ja Wilson had 19 points and 11 rebounds before leaving with a right ankle injury with 16 seconds left in No. 9 South Carolina’s 71-63 win over Auburn on Thursday night.

Wilson was a force with her 12th double-double this season and, in the first quarter, became just the third player in program history to reach 2,000 career points. But she came down hard under her own basket in the final seconds and hobbled over to the corner of the court. Team trainers helped her off and she went right to the locker room.

Wilson and the defending national champion Gamecocks (14-2, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) rebounded from their first SEC loss of the season Sunday at Missouri to win their eighth straight over the Tigers (10-6, 1-3). Not that it was easy.

Auburn whittled a 22-point second-quarter deficit to 62-56 on Janiah McKay’s jumper with 5:36 to play. But South Carolina point guard Tyasha Harris responded with five straight points to rebuild the double-digit edge.

Wilson, the 6-foot-5 All-American, had her worst showing of the year at Mizzou, fouling out in just 19 minutes and finishing with a season-low eight points. But she was active from the start of this one – she made two of her team’s first three baskets and assisted on the other – as South Carolina opened a 30-10 edge by the end of the first quarter. Her two made foul shots with 1:13 left in the opening period pushed her to 2,000 points over four seasons, leaving her behind only Shelia Foster (2,226 points) and Shannon Johnson (2,230) in Gamecocks history.

Harris was the only other South Carolina player in double figures with 12 points.

McKay led Auburn with 27 points and Daisa Alexander had 16.

QUOTABLE DAWN STALEY

On senior forward A’ja Wilson reaching 2,000 career points 
“I mean, it’s great. I think A’ja (Wilson) came here with goals in mind. Certainly we knew that was kind of attainable for her just because she’s one that can score the basketball in a lot of different ways. We were glad to be a part of that milestone for her.”

NOTABLE

  • With Thursday’s victory, South Carolina improved to 18-1 when coming off a loss in a stretch that dates back to January 2012.
  • Gamecock senior forward A’ja Wilson is the third player in program history to reach 2,000 career points, joining Sheila Foster (2,266 points; 1979-82) and Shannon Johnson (2,230 points; 1993-96).
  • Following a free throw late in the first half, Wilson notched her 800th point in SEC play. She is one of four Gamecocks to accomplish that feat.
  • Carolina sophomore Tyasha Harris tallied 12 points and 11 assists to notch her second-straight double-double. The guard joins Wilson on the list of Gamecocks to record back-to-back double-doubles this season.

GAMECHANGER

The Gamecocks used an 8-2 run down the stretch of the fourth quarter to pull away from the Tigers and establish a 70-58 lead with two minutes to play. Sophomore guard Tyasha Harris sparked the pivotal stretch with a jumper and 3-pointer from the corner on consecutive Carolina possessions.

KEY STAT

The Gamecocks made the most of their trips to the line, finishing 16-of-21 (.762) on their free throw attempts. Thursday marked the fourth time this season Carolina shot 75 percent or better from the charity stripe.

UP NEXT

Carolina returns to action this weekend at the Colonial Life Arena when it hosts No. 6/6 Tennessee in a top-10 battle set for Sun., Jan. 14. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m. ET, and the game will air on ESPN2.