PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP)Top-ranked South Carolina used a dominant inside presence to run away from Buffalo on Saturday night.
Aliyah Boston scored 19 of her 23 points in the first half of the Gamecocks’ 88-60 win in the opening round of the inaugural Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
Kamilla Cardoso, who transferred from Syracuse in April, had her best game of the young season for the Gamecocks, adding 12 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. The 6-foot-7 ACC freshman of the year last season complemented Boston well.
”We wanted our posts to be dominant and that was a huge advantage coming into the basketball game,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. ”That was our expectation and they came through.”
Dyaisha Fair led Buffalo (1-1) with 22 points.
”It’s a learning experience. It was our second game of the season and we could have been more prepared, but it happened the way it happened,” Fair said. ”The outcome wasn’t what we wanted but for us to play the way we did, I’ll take it.”
The Gamecocks (4-0) led by three after one quarter before extending the advantage to 45-33 at the half. Boston had 11 points in the second.
”It definitely felt good to knock some shots down,” Boston said. ”My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball to knock down that jumper.”
South Carolina used its size to pull away in the third quarter, and outrebounded the Bulls 49-26.
The Gamecocks shot a sizzling 65% from the field in the second half and 58% for the game.
SHE SAID IT
”We are leaving this game learning lessons, getting better. We’ll get better towards March,” Buffalo coach Felisha Legette-Jack said.
Buffalo: This tournament will give the Bulls much needed experience against Power Five schools. Buffalo was the only mid-major program invited to the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Bulls played South Carolina two other times in school history, the last one coming in the Sweet 16 in 2018 – a Gamecocks win.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks didn’t get much out of second-leading scorer Zia Cooke, who came into the game averaging 13.3 points. She finished with four. Destanni Henderson did have another strong game with 14 points and eight assists.
TAKE THE GOOD WITH THE BAD
Staley was happy with the unselfishness of her team, but wasn’t thrilled with its carelessness. South Carolina had 26 assists on its 34 baskets, but also 22 turnovers.
”We scored 88 points and turned it over 22 times,” the coach said. ”I’ll take it for our team, 26 on 34 is pretty good, we can carry that over if we decrease the turnovers.”
LIFT AS YOU CLIMB
Staley feels that her Buffalo counterpart Felisha Legette-Jack deserves another chance at a Power Five school if she wants it. Staley has been advocating for more coaching opportunities for Black women. Legette-Jack coached at Indiana before being let go and taking over at Buffalo, where she’s guided the team to its first-ever Sweet 16 in 2018 before losing to the Gamecocks.
Buffalo: Faces Oklahoma in the consolation bracket on Sunday.
South Carolina: Plays No. 9 Oregon in the semifinals on Sunday.
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