Women's basketball: Wilson free throws push South Carolina past Arizona State
HONOLULU, Hawaii -- No. 2/2 South Carolina gutted out a 60-58 win over No. 16/18 Arizona State as A'ja Wilson drained a pair of free throws with 0.6 to play in the opening game of the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown. The Gamecocks (5-0) struggled with turnovers but made big plays down the stretch to remain undefeated on the season, and Wilson posted her fourth double-double in five outings.
In the first quarter, the Gamecocks went to the speed of Bianca Cuevas late in the period to put the Sun Devils on their heels, and Asia Dozier tied it up 14-14 hitting a jumper around a Jatarie White screen. Both teams misfired and turned it over the ensuing possession, and Arizona State's Sabrina Haines hit a late 3 to put the Sun Devils up 17-14 after the first 10 minutes of action.
In the second quarter, A'ja Wilson went to work. After ASU went up 21-14 with 8:55 to go in the half, Wilson drove the lane for a bucket. On the next possession, Tina Roy led Alaina Coates to the basket for an inside bucket, and Wilson again drove on the ASU defense to get the Gamecocks within striking distance at 23-20. South Carolina continued to hammer away at the Sun Devils, who stayed just ahead through much of the quarter. After Peace Amukamara hit a jumper from the left side to build a 27-24 ASU lead, Wilson connected on back-to-back possessions to give the Gamecocks their first lead since early in the first quarter at 28-26 with 2:58 to go before halftime. The Gamecock defense was dialed in, but the Sun Devils kept the game in check at the free throw line, and again a late 3-pointer ended the period with Arizona State on top 33-30.
The Gamecocks stormed through the third quarter, shutting down Arizona State for much of the period, but turnovers would not let South Carolina pull away. Wilson repeatedly drove to the basket, and the Gamecocks combined to hold the Sun Devils to a single tough shot each possession. Cuevas began to pour it on as well, putting South Carolina up 45-39 with five straight points while also drawing an offensive foul. With four seconds left in the period, Elisha Davis heaved in a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to make it a three-point game heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter was more of the Cuevas show a she scored the Gamecocks first six points, and Khadijah Sessions' putback on her miss in transition made it a 53-46 South Carolina lead with 7:08 to play. The Sun Devils took advantage of back-to-back turnovers by the Gamecocks, though and knotted the game at 53-53 on Haines' 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 4:45 mark. After another South Carolina turnover, Davis put the Sun Devils on top with a drive. Both teams misfired on their next possessions, and Roy delivered a clutch 3-pointer from the left side to put the Gamecocks back in front 56-55 with 3:14 to go.
South Carolina's defense continued to stymie the Sun Devils, but Arizona State again surged ahead with a Katie Hempen 3-pointer from the left corner. Gamecock freshman Shay Colley drove the lane looking for a runner to fall, but Coates picked up the rebound and put it back to tie the game 58-58 with 56 seconds on the clock. The defense forced ASU into a tough shot on the next possession, but Quin Dornstauder came up with the offensive board with 18 seconds to play.
Following an ASU timeout, the Gamecock defense delivered yet again, forcing a miss from Hempen that Wilson corralled with seven seconds on the clock as part of her game-high 11 rebounds on the night. After a pair of timeouts, the Gamecocks triggered the ball in from the baseline to Coates who put up a short jumper falling away. It missed, but again Wilson pulled down the rebound. As time ticked away, her first putback missed but she stayed after the rebound, getting fouled in the process with 0.6 seconds on the clock. The sophomore stepped to the line and hit both to deliver South Carolina's second win over a ranked opponent this season.
Wilson and Cuevas tied for team-high honors with 18 points each. Sarah Imovbioh trailed Wilson's 11 rebounds with eight in her 16 minutes on the court.