Gamecocks score 50 point opening round win at NCAA Women's Tournament
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Allisha Gray scored 22 points and had 12 rebounds to lead top-seeded South Carolina to a 90-40 win over No. 16 seed UNC Asheville on Friday.
The Gamecocks (28-4) were missing Alania Coates their best rebounder and half of their twin tower frontcourt. But Gray, a 6-foot guard and transfer from North Carolina, scored 20 of her points in the paint and tied her best rebounding night of her career with eight by halftime.
A'ja Wilson added 18 points in a game where she was expected to shoulder the burden of replacing Coates' 10.7 rebounds a game. Coates will miss the rest of the NCAA tournament with an ankle injury.
Khalia Webb led UNC Asheville (19-15) with 12 points, and Chatori Major added 10 points before fouling out of the final game of her career.
The Gamecocks outscored the Bulldogs 60-16 inside the lane.
South Carolina opened the second quarter with Wilson heading to the bench. The smaller, inexperienced Gamecocks lineup just put the hammer down.
Over the next four minutes, Bianca Cuevas-Moore, getting just her fourth start since conference play started in January, would score 10 points in three minutes as a 9-point lead ballooned to a 36-17 South Carolina advantage. She finished the game with 18 points.
South Carolina's defense then took over. Asheville didn't score for the final six minutes of the second quarter and the Gamecocks led 48-22 at the break.
UNC Asheville: The Bulldogs have gone from 2-28 with no Division I wins five years ago to back-to-back NCAA Tournament bids under coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick. Asheville went more than 10 minutes without a point in the second and third quarters. The Bulldogs were a 14th seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, losing by 54 to Kentucky.
South Carolina: The 50-point win was the biggest ever for the Gamecocks in the NCAA tournament. South Carolina has been a No. 1 seed four years in a row, winning its openers by an average of 34 points. South Carolina played 11 players in the first half, including two that have played in only about a third of its games. South Carolina coach Dawn Staley hasn't lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament since her final season at Temple in 2008.
Arizona State plays top-seeded South Carolina in the second round on Sunday, with the winner advancing to the Sweet 16 in Stockton, California. The two teams played at the start of last season in Hawaii, with the Gamecocks winning 60-58 in overtime.