COLUMBIA, S.C. — Freshman Alaina Coates doesn’t see No. 7 South Carolina’s front line as unstoppable, even if few Southeastern Conference opponents have figured out how to handle the Gamecocks underneath the boards.
The 6-foot-4 Coates tied her career high with 24 points, added 12 rebounds and helped South Carolina’s forwards wear out Ole Miss in a 99-70 victory Thursday night.
It was Coates’ seventh game with double-figure points and rebounds, her fourth in SEC play for the Gamecocks (19-2, 7-1). And she wasn’t alone. Teammate Elem Ibiam, a 6-4 junior, had 14 points, eight rebounds and five of South Carolina’s seven blocked shots. Six-footer Aleighsa Welch had 11 points and four boards.
Combined, the trio consistently got close to the basket and combined to shoot 18 of 22 from the field against the Rebels (10-12, 1-7).
That’s been plenty to stay atop the SEC, tied with No. 17 Texas A&M at 7-1. Ibiam says the forwards take pride in dominating down low.
Valencia McFarland led Ole Miss with 24 points, her fourth game in the past five with at least 20 points. Tia Faleru had 19.
The Gamecocks put things away when they closed the opening half with a 19-1 run to lead 44-25. The Rebels never got closer than 17 points after that.
n Florida 75, Alabama 67: At Gainesville, Fla., Carlie Needles had a team-high 16 points Thursday night to help the Gators improve to 15-6 and 5-2 in the league.
Senior Shafontaye Myers led all scorers with 21 points, while freshman Ashley Williams recorded her third double-double of the season with 20 points and 10 rebounds for Alabama (10-11, 3-5).
The game went back and forth over the first several minutes with neither team leading by more than three. Florida began to pull away late in the half, leading by seven with 4:29 to go. The Tide evened the score minutes later with a put-back from junior Bri Hutchen, but the Gators would score five unanswered to end the half and take a 37-32 lead into the break.
Florida led by eight with 16:30 to go in the game after senior Lily Svete knocked down a three-pointer. From there, Alabama would go on a 12-5 to pull within one, 52-51, with 10:13 remaining. The Gators strung together yet another run to distance itself from the Tide for good.
Florida shot 46.3 percent (25-54) from the floor, while Alabama was 40.0 percent (26-65) overall. The Tide out-rebounded the Gators, 40-34, however Florida took advantage of its 23 trips to the free throw line, hitting 16.
Alabama will play host to No. 10/10 Tennessee at 3:30 p.m. Sunday (ESPNU).