No. 1 South Carolina rolls over Hampton, 69-49
HAMPTON, Va. (AP) Tiffany Mitchell saw Hampton's defense closing in on No. 1 South Carolina's low post players, so she waited.
Time and again, she set herself up at the 3-point line, took a pass and foiled the Lady Pirates' strategy.
Mitchell made six of South Carolina's nine 3-pointers and scored 20 points as the Gamecocks took command with a 19-5 first-half run and beat Hampton 69-49 on Wednesday night. The Lady Pirates were also outrebounded 48-21.
''When they double-team our post players, we have to be ready to knock down shots,'' Mitchell said after hitting 7 of 10.
South Carolina (10-0) took command with that first-half run, pulling away from a 14-all tie, but led just 37-25 at halftime. The lead was still just 54-39 with 7 1/2 minutes to go before the Gamecocks scoring the next 12 points.
Bianca Cuevas started and finished the burst with a pair of 3-pointers, extending the lead to a comfortable 66-39.
It was the kind of game South Carolina coach Dawn Staley was hoping for when she agreed to come to Hampton.
''I think sometimes you have to make adjustments to environments and that's why we came down here, to be in an environment that wasn't going to be favorable, to actually put our team through that, and they survived,'' Staley said.
Mitchell's ability to make Hampton pay for a collapsing defense was no surprise, she said.
''She's always in the gym. Before practice, after practice. We have to kind of shoo her out of the gym,'' Staley said of her junior guard. ''Anytime she's feeling it like she was tonight, she has to keep shooting.''
Cuevas, Alaina Coates and A'Ja Wilson each added 12 points for South Carolina.
Malia Tate-DeFreitas led Hampton (3-6) with 19 points and Kyani White had 11. The Lady Pirates, winners of the last five Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournaments, shot just 34.6 percent (18-52) and were outrebounded 48-21.
''There are no moral victories for me in terms of winning a game, but we gave them a game, were in striking distance for most off the game,'' Hampton coach David Six said. ''They just wear you down.''
Wilson scored six points and Mitchell had five in the 19-5 run that spanned nine minutes and gave the Gamecocks a 33-19 lead. Hampton missed 13 of 15 shots during the dry spell, with Tate-DeFreitas accounting for both made baskets.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have played two other MEAC schools this year, beating N.C. Central 90-26 and Savannah State 111-49.
Hampton: The Lady Pirates' deficit shrunk from 13 to 12 during halftime when a basket by Kyani White was changed to a 3-pointer.
The Gamecocks' rebounding edge included an 18-6 edge in offensive boards. They scored 17 second-chance points to Hampton's six, and had a 26-14 edge in points in the paint.
South Carolina plays Central Michigan in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Saturday.
Hampton plays at James Madison on Saturday.
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