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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Aliyah Boston had 21 points and 11 rebounds, Zia Cooke scored 10 of her 20 points during a 16-0 second-quarter rally and top-ranked South Carolina pulled away in the fourth quarter to rout Kentucky 95-66 on Thursday night.
After battling back to win at Mississippi State on Sunday, the Gamecocks (17-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) overcame another road challenge from the Wildcats to retain a share of first place in the conference.
Kentucky’s 14-1 run provided a 31-21 lead midway through the second quarter and a huge dose of confidence against the reigning national champions. But South Carolina quickly seized momentum. Boston, who was 9 of 11 shooting, responded with a jumper and Cooke added a 3-pointer, a three-point play and two layups during the surge to lead 37-33 at the break.
The Gamecocks maintained a small cushion after three quarters before going 13 of 17 from the floor in the fourth to pull away.
Maddie Scherr scored a career-high 25 points with five 3s for the Wildcats (8-9, 0-4), who fell to their second top-10 opponent this week. Kentucky lost 67-48 to now-No. 5 LSU on Sunday at Rupp Arena.
South Carolina nearly doubled Kentucky in scoring in the paint (62-32) on the way to shooting 64% (35 of 55). Kamilla Cardoso added 12 points and Laeticia Amihere 11 as the Gamecocks also dominated bench scoring 39-10.
The teams met for the first time since Kentucky upset the top-seeded Gamecocks 64-62 to win the SEC Tournament title. South Carolina went on to win its second national title and hasn’t looked back, though it entered the contest in a four-way tie atop the league.
South Carolina exploded on offense in the final quarter, outscoring Kentucky 36-15, shooting 76.5 percent from the field … the 36 points are the most in a quarter this season and is tied for the second most in program history.
The Gamecocks finished shooting 63.6 percent from the field, the highest this year.
South Carolina had two 20+ point scorers in Zia Cooke and Aliyah Boston, the first time since Boston and Victoria Saxton did the same vs. Mercer in 2021 (03/21).
Cooke led the way for the ninth time this season with 20 points, and opened an 11-2 run with a three in the second quarter.
Boston recorded her 10th double-double of the season, tallying a season high 21 points with half coming in the first quarter…her lone offensive rebound placed her at the No. 1 spot in the Gamecock record books for the category with a total of 449 in her career.
Raven Johnson tied career highs of nine points and seven assists on the night, knocking down a three with under two minutes to go in the third quarter to extend the Gamecocks’ lead by five.