Sold out and still perfect: No. 1 South Carolina takes down Ole Miss at home

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The Gamecocks put on a show in game two of the first back-to-back sellouts at Colonial Life Arena in program history.

No. 1 South Carolina defeated Ole Miss 85-56 Sunday afternoon. The Gamecocks have now extended their program record to 52 straight home wins.

Coach Dawn Staley went with the same starting five as she did Thursday against Auburn: Te-Hina Paopao, Bree Hall, Raven Johnson, Kamilla Cardoso and Ashlyn Watkins. South Carolina’s usual starting forward Chloe Kitts missed the Auburn game due to illness. She didn’t practice Friday, but she did warm up with the team Sunday afternoon and played 15 minutes against Ole Miss.

Six Gamecocks ended the game with at least 10 points: Cardoso (17), Watkins (11), Paopao (11), MiLaysia Fulwiley (14), Hall (10) and Sania Feagin (10).

USC (21-0, 9-0 SEC) hosts Missouri Thursday at 7 p.m. on SEC Network.

Ashlyn Watkins does it again

After making her starting debut in Auburn on Thursday, Watkins started again at home in front of a sold-out crowd versus Ole Miss.

She made a huge impact on the game. Aside from her impressive stat line (11 points on 80% shooting, 10 rebounds, one assist, one block and one steal), Watkins just played tough. She recovered errant passes from her teammates and turned them into buckets. She blocked shots and snagged rebounds. She imposed her will.

Kamilla Cardoso channels dominance

Partly due to foul trouble (Sunday’s game saw a lot of whistles from the officiating crew, as both teams combined for 24 fouls in the first half), Cardoso wasn’t able to make much happen during the first half. She played nine minutes and shot the ball four times — sinking just one attempt.

But she opened the third quarter with a different level of intensity, scoring 10 points (on 5-of-6 shooting) in six minutes. Cardoso backed down defenders and even dove for a ball headed out of bounds in the fourth quarter. She ended the game 17 points on 60% shooting, plus four blocks and two steals.

South Carolina’s outside shooting slump continues

Before the LSU game on Jan. 25, USC averaged a nation-leading 44.1% in 3-point shooting percentage. But heading into Sunday’s game versus Ole Miss, South Carolina had gone through a stretch of struggling from the outside.

In USC’s three previous games, it averaged 30.5% from 3 (shooting 7-of-20 at LSU, 7-of-23 versus Vanderbilt and 4-of-16 at Auburn). Against Ole Miss, the Gamecocks experienced more of the same.

South Carolina made just one 3-pointer in six attempts during the first half Sunday, courtesy of freshman Tessa Johnson from the right corner with 33 seconds left in the second quarter.

The Gamecocks ended the game having shot 20% (2-of-10) from 3.

Next four South Carolina women’s basketball games

  • Thursday: vs. Missouri, 7 p.m. (SEC Network)

  • Feb. 11: vs. UConn, 2 p.m. (ESPN)

  • Feb. 15: at Tennessee, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

  • Feb. 18: vs. Georgia, 1 p.m. (ABC)