COLUMBIA — A'ja Wilson had her eighth double-double this year, with 26 points and 15 rebounds, and No. 5 South Carolina put away visiting College of Charleston 69-43 on Tuesday night.
It was the third straight victory for the Gamecocks (9-1) since their lone loss to No. 3 Notre Dame on Nov. 26. South Carolina now takes an almost two-week break — and at times Tuesday, it looked like the team had begun the time off just a bit early.
The Gamecocks opened 2 of 12 shooting with three turnovers and were only up 8-3 over the struggling Cougars (2-6). That's when Wilson got going with four straight baskets to build a double-digit lead that South Carolina would not relinquish.
Wilson, the 6-foot-5 senior, was no match for College of Charleston. She reached double figures in points and rebounds in her first 12 minutes.
The Cougars, who made only three field goals the opening 20 minutes, used a 12-2 start to the third quarter to cut a 24-point deficit to 36-22. Wilson, once more, pushed the Gamecocks forward with two foul shots and a pair of baskets to restore the 20-point margin.
Wilson, the two-time Southeastern Conference player of the year, made 10 of 20 shots. She also had three steals and a block as the Gamecocks beat Charleston for a ninth straight time.
Alexis Jennings had 12 points for South Carolina while freshman guard Bianca Jackson had 10 rebounds.
Darien Huff had 10 points to lead Charleston.
THE BIG PICTURE
CofC: The Cougars, who were 9-21 a year ago, have been already been pummeled this season by a Power Five opponent in Michigan State (107-43). Charleston plays at Wake Forest in two weeks before opening play in the Colonial Athletic Association. Expect more struggles for Charleston as nine of its 14 players are underclassmen.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks can count on Wilson and Alexis Jennings to get them through games with overmatched opponents like College of Charleston. They'll need their experienced, injured guards in Bianca Cuevas-Moore and Lindsey Spann to get healthy and their younger, inexperienced players to take several steps forward when Southeastern Conference play arrives later this month.
South Carolina has played with past three games without senior guards Cuevas-Moore and Spann. Cuevas-Moore has not played all season with a knee issue, while Spann hurt her knee against Notre Dame late last month. There could be help on the way, though. Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley will ask the NCAA for a waiver to allow Tennessee transfer Te'a Cooper to play after the first semester ends later this month. If granted, Cooper could join the lineup earlier than planned.
College of Charleston will take a 10-day break before heading to North Florida on Dec. 15.
South Carolina will be off even longer, 12 days, before its next game at home against Savannah State.