MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — La’Keisha Sutton scored 21 points, Markeshia Grant added 20 and South Carolina held No. 18 North Carolina to its lowest point total in nearly two years with a 79-48 victory on Sunday.
The Gamecocks (9-2) broke out to an 11-0 lead and never let off the gas pedal against the Tar Heels (7-2), who came in as the nation’s highest-scoring team at 87.5 points a game.
Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell brings her team to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center each year and had gone a decade since UNC’s last loss along the Grand Strand resort area. That, too, was a blowout defeat to the Gamecocks, 85-53, in 2001.
North Carolina’s point total was its lowest since an 88-47 loss to Connecticut on Jan. 9, 2010.
Chey Shegog led the Tar Heels with 17 points.
North Carolina entered the contest with five starters averaging in double figures. But only Shegog and Candace Wood, with 14, reached that in this one.
North Carolina had beaten the Gamecocks the past two years at the beach and brought the country’s most potent offense into this year’s matchup. Instead, it was South Carolina which took off in the opening half.
South Carolina led 11-0 less than 3 minutes in and was rarely slowed down over the first 20 minutes.
|Other Top-25 Action|
|No. 1 Baylor 66, No. 2 Connecticut 61|
|No. 3 Notre Dame 92, No. 8 Kentucky 83|
|No. 16 Penn State 103, Wagner 42|
|No. 11 Rutgers 62, Iona 29|
|NC State 66, No. 20 Vanderbilt 59|
|No. 10 Texas A&M 71, USC 70|
|No. 22 Purdue 62, Auburn 54|
|No. 25 Nebraska 94, Vermont 41|
|• Complete Scoreboard|
Grant opened the game with consecutive 3-pointers and had 16 points by the break. Sutton added 14 points and looked a lot like her coach in her All-American college career at Virginia as she continually pushed South Carolina down court.
The Gamecocks were also aggressive on the boards, outrebounding the taller Tar Heels – South Carolina has just one player in the rotation taller than 6-foot – 24-13 in the first half.
South Carolina shot 58.3 percent (21 of 36) and was 7 of 11 from behind the arc in the period.
North Carolina’s only surge was a 13-4 run that cut a 21-point lead to 36-24 with 3:03 to go.
But Sutton rallied the Gaemcocks back with a 3-pointer to start a 14-3 charge at the half. Tina Roy closed the half by rattling in a 3-pointer from the left corner as time ran out for a 50-27 lead.
It was North Carolina’s lowest scoring half of the season.
Sutton and the Gamecocks kept it up in the second half. She hit a 3-pointer and another basket as South Carolina led by as many as 34 points in the second half.
The Gamecocks finished with a 47-30 edge in rebounding and forced 17 turnovers from the usually sure-handed Tar Heels.
The crowd was split between Carolina blue and Gamecocks’ garnet as supporters for both programs turned out for the regional rivalry.
There was plenty of Carolina blue in the stands as Hatchell brought her team to Myrtle Beach for a December “home” game for a 17th consecutive year. Hatchell won two national titles about 60 miles away at Division II Francis Marion and heavily works the high schools in northeast South Carolina.
North Carolina fell to 23-5 all-time in Myrtle Beach games.