NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The fourth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks made sure they wouldn't be joining the growing list of upsets in women's basketball.
Zia Cooke scored 17 points to lead five in double figures and South Carolina routed Vanderbilt 93-57 on Sunday to position the Gamecocks for a possible move up to No. 1 for the first time this season.
"It's really important especially when you're playing on the road in an SEC territory to be as close to who you are as possible, and I thought our team did that," South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. "
Top-ranked UConn lost to Baylor on Thursday night. No. 2 Oregon lost to Arizona State on Friday night, and Arizona State upset No. 3 Oregon State 55-47 earlier Sunday.
The Gamecocks (16-1, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) came in and simply dominated from the start on their way to a 10th straight win. They improved to 12-2 against Vanderbilt under Staley, including all six at Memorial Gym in this stretch. They've also won their first four in league play for the sixth time in the past seven seasons.
"There's obviously a reason they're a national championship contender year in and year out," Vanderbilt coach Stephanie White said. "I think this is one of the single most talented teams that Dawn's had, which is really scary. Athletic, they were clicking on all cylinders, and they just have the ability to come out in waves and make runs, and that's what they did."
Mikiah Herbert Harrigan added 15 points for South Carolina. Laeticia Amikhere had 11, and Tyasha Harris and Aliyah Boston added 10 each.
Chelsie Hall scored 15 points to lead Vanderbilt (12-5, 2-2). Mariella Fasoula added 12.
The Gamecocks opened the game scoring the first nine points, and they finished with a 12-3 run for a 21-9 lead after the first quarter.
But Vanderbilt had won seven of its last eight despite losing leading scorer Brinae Alexander to an Achilles injury on Nov. 28. That streak included the Commodores' first win at Georgia since 2011 on Thursday night. The Commodores went on a 12- 2 spurt of their own and pulled within 27-24 on a layup by Mariella Fasoula with 3:06 to go in the second.
Vanderbilt didn't score again the rest of the quarter, and South Carolina responded by scoring 11 straight for a 38-24 lead at halftime.
The Gamecocks picked up in the third where they left off, and Cooke's 3 with 8:03 left capped a 21-point spurt that left South Carolina up 48-24. South Carolina outscored Vanderbilt 36-14 in the quarter and led 74-38 going into the fourth. Staley said the Gamecocks regrouped at halftime and started playing faster, making quicker decisions along with some defensive adjustments on handling ball screens better.
"We grouped at halftime and took it to another level," Staley said. "That is what pretty good teams should do, and I thought our team did that today."
South Carolina: The Gamecocks made Vanderbilt pay for its mistakes with a 27-10 scoring edge off the Commodores' 16 turnovers. They also used their speed for a 21-9 scoring difference on fast breaks. They also shot 50.7% (35-of-69) from the floor.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores now are 8-2 at Memorial Gym this season with both losses to teams ranked fourth in the nation. They lost to then-No. 4 UConn in November. They need only one more win this season to match the nine wins at home over the past two seasons combined.
But forward Autumn Newby had to be carried off the court with 16.3 seconds left after a leg injury. She finished with five points and eight rebounds. White said they had gone back and forth over whether or not to pull their floor leader. "Anytime you see anybody go down, particularly with the injuries we've already had, it's a blow," White said.
The Gamecocks could be moving on up Monday in the new poll.
South Carolina: Gamecocks visit Missouri on Thursday night.
Vanderbilt: Host No. 21 Arkansas in a week on Sunday.
Ga. Tech 49, Clemson 47
ATLANTA – Despite putting forth a valiant come-from-behind effort in the fourth quarter, the Clemson Tigers were edged out by the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Sunday. The Tigers trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half at McCamish Pavilion, but a great defensive performance in the second half resulted in Clemson nearly coming away with the win. In the end, though, Georgia Tech triumphed 49-47.
Defense was the story of the low-scoring game. Clemson (5-11, 1-4) limited Georgia Tech (13-3, 4-1) to a shooting percentage of 28.8. Clemson shot 45.2 percent from the floor and benefited from 22 bench points. As the final score indicates, many elements of the game were evenly matched. Each squad hauled down 34 rebounds and tallied 22 points in the paint. A primary difference maker in the game was Georgia Tech scoring 22 points off 22 Clemson turnovers. The Yellow Jackets also amassed 14 second-chance points and went 10-of-13 at the free throw line. As for Clemson's free throw shooting, the Tigers were 6-of-13 at the charity stripe.
The star of the game for Clemson was Shania Meertens, who scored a season-high 17 points and went 7-of-11 from the field. Meertens was Clemson's leading scorer and rebounder, as she also tabbed five boards. Nine of Meertens' 17 points were scored in the second quarter, when she went 4-for-4 on field goal attempts, including an impressive 3-pointer with the shot clock running down, and incited the Tigers. Kobi Thornton chipped in eight points and grabbed three rebounds on the afternoon for Clemson. Georgia Tech's Francesca Pan led all scorers with 17 points.
The Yellow Jackets led 11-5 through one quarter of play and proceeded to garner a 26-19 advantage heading into halftime. Although they were held to a 28.6 shooting percentage in the first half, the Yellow Jackets compiled 14 points off 15 turnovers. The Tigers finished the first half off well, though, by connecting on five of their last seven shot attempts in the second quarter. Clemson then outscored Georgia Tech 13-12 in the third quarter, a period in which the Tigers committed only one turnover.
A 7-0 Clemson run in the fourth quarter resulted in the Tigers taking their first lead of the game via a jumper by Thornton. Kendall Spray highlighted Clemson's surge with an impressive step-back 3-pointer that knotted the game up at 41 points apiece and set the stage for Thornton's go-ahead shot. The Yellow Jackets fought back, however, and a second-chance 3-ball by Jasmine Carson with just over one minute to play provided Georgia Tech with a lead that it did not relinquish.
Clemson will return home for its next outing, with the Pittsburgh Panthers (3-12, 0-4) coming to Littlejohn Coliseum for a matchup on Thursday, Jan. 16. The ACC battle in Clemson, S.C., will tip off at 7 p.m. and is scheduled to be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.