A'ja Wilson leads No. 4 South Carolina past Ole Miss, 88-62
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) Mississippi kept things close for three quarters, but A'ja Wilson and No. 4 South Carolina had an answer for everything the Rebels gave them.
Wilson had 25 points and 15 rebounds. Alexis Jennings had 14 points and nine rebounds, and Victoria Patrick scored 11 points as the Gamecocks won 88-62 on Thursday night.
South Carolina (13-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) withstood multiple rallies from the Rebels but overpowered them in the fourth quarter. The Gamecocks used a 29-12 run to close out the game.
"I felt we defended and rebounded," South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said of the late run. "We were contesting shots and we stopped fouling. We fouled them a lot at the end of that third quarter. We were able to put just a little more pressure on them to where we could affect the shot."
Madinah Muhammad scored 29 points to lead Ole Miss (10-5, 0-2). Alissa Alston had 11 points and eight assists while Shelby Gibson scored 10 points.
South Carolina shot 45 percent, including 16-for-29 in the second half, and outscored Ole Miss 40-22 in the paint. The Gamecocks won the rebound battle 45-30 and scored 17 points off 11 Ole Miss turnovers.
"I thought for three quarters we did a good job," Ole Miss coach Matt Insell said. "Got within nine there and then (South Carolina) made three straight threes and that just deflated us."
The Rebels shot 39 percent from the floor and went cold in the fourth quarter, shooting 4-for-13.
Ole Miss tried to lure Wilson from her comfort zone in the first half by having Gibson attempt multiple 3-pointers. Staley did not take the bait as Wilson stayed firmly underneath and continued to disrupt the Rebels' offense.
"(Gibson) shoots the ball well in practice and we were trying to get Wilson out of the paint," Insell said. "Wilson just hangs out in there, and if you don't force her out, you're not going to score in there."
South Carolina: The Gamecocks extended their win streak to seven after losing to Notre Dame on Nov. 26 to stay perfect in the SEC and keep pace with No. 5 Mississippi State.
Ole Miss: After suffering a one-point loss at Arkansas on New Year's Eve, the Rebels are still in search of their first conference win and have dropped four of their last five.
A key stretch came in the final stages of the first half. Wilson picked up two quick fouls to start the second quarter and sat the final seven minutes of the half. Ole Miss was unable to capitalize, and South Carolina took a 35-28 lead into halftime.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks travel to No. 15 Missouri on Sunday before a two-game homestand.
Ole Miss: The Rebels host Florida on Sunday before visiting No. 5 Mississippi State next Thursday.
Updated January 4, 2018