By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Destanni Henderson had 16 points off three 3-pointers and Zia Cooke scored 13 points as No. 1 South Carolina pulled away in the second half for its 11th straight win over rival Clemson 76-45 on Wednesday night.
South Carolina’s backcourt tandem got things going in the third quarter after managing just seven field goals the first 20 minutes to lead 27-17.
Cooke played only six minutes in the opening half as she picked up two quick fouls. But she lit things up after the break, leading an 18-6 run with a jumper and two 3-pointers for a 45-27 lead Clemson could not overcome.
South Carolina (3-0) finished with four players in double figures. All-America Aliyan Boston scored 11 points, her first game in double digits this season.
South Carolina has dominated the Tigers (1-2), winning almost all by lopsided scores with the closest coming the last time they played here, 69-57, in Nov. 2018.
However, it took a while for the Gamecocks to get going with Cooke and Boston on the bench with two early fouls apiece.
South Carolina shot just 7 of 22 from the field and had 13 first-half turnovers — it had committed just 22 miscues combined its first two victories.
But the Gamecocks locked down considerably on defense in the rivalry game, holding the Tigers to 0-for-16 shooting in the second quarter. Clemson hit just three foul shots over the 10 minutes.
Gabby Elliott had 11 points to lead the Tigers, who fell to 2-16 all-time against No. 1 ranked opponents.
THE BIG PICTURE
Clemson: The Tigers have aspirations of returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019, Amanda Butler’s first year as coach. But they’ll have to show a sharper attack and much more accuracy than they had against South Carolina after shooting just 29 percent.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks looked like the country’s No. 1 team in taking down, fifth-ranked North Carolina State and South Dakota in their opening week. South Carolina needs more of a flow from its bench players, who struggled to hit shots with their leaders in foul trouble. It didn’t cost the Gamecocks here, but could against more highly ranked opponents.
Clemson starts a five-game homestand against Penn State on Sunday.
South Carolina starts play at the Women’s Battle 4 Atlantis against Buffalo on Saturday night.
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