South Carolina women limit Howard Bison to NCAA tournament record-low 21 points

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Top-seeded South Carolina figured out one way to solve its fourth quarter woes. All the Gamecocks needed to do is hold their opponent to the fewest points ever in a women’s NCAA tournament game.

Aliyah Boston scored 10 points and had 12 rebounds to lead the Gamecocks to a 79-21 victory over Howard.

The 21 points for the Bison broke the record held by Kansas State, which scored 26 in a loss to UConn in 2012. The Gamecocks (30-2) held Howard (21-10) to an NCAA tournament record low four points in the first half as they took a 44-4 lead.

“We defend,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “We were pretty locked in.”

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It was a total mismatch, even for a No. 1 versus No. 16 seed. The Gamecocks had 30 offensive rebounds to just six for Howard. The Bison turned the ball over 20 times and were outscored 38 to 8 in the paint.

Thirteen of the 14 South Carolina players who got into the game scored.

But there still are things for Staley to worry about. The defense helped mask an off shooting night for the tournament’s overall top seed. The Gamecocks shot 35% from the field and just 8-fo-38 on 3-pointers.

“I know we can’t have another game shooting-wise like we did and expect to win basketball games,” Staley said. “We’ve got to find a way to get the ball to go in the hole for us.”

South Carolina has been struggling to finish games. They lost to Kentucky Wildcats 64-62 in the Southeastern Conference final earlier this month after being outscored 21-7 in the fourth quarter.

Up 60-8 over Howard at the end of the third quarter, freshman Bree Hall said the team was reminded that champions finish games strong.

“We’ve got to keep building on this lead. We’ve got to go out there and play hard and keep doing what we’re doing,” Hall said. “The last, recent games, we haven’t been finishing the fourth quarter.”

South Carolina won that final quarter 19-13.

Iyanna Warren led Howard with eight points.

“It was the opportunity of a lifetime that not many teams, not many people get to experience. We got to play South Carolina on their home floor,” Warren said. “We were just happy and excited for the opportunity.”

Howard coach Ty Grace told her team now that they have proven they can be conference champions, they can pay attention to how South Carolina handled them Friday and see how to take the next step.

“It’s only up from here,” Grace said.

Boston picked up her 25th straight double-double, and one of the biggest cheers of the second half on her home floor came when the All-American pulled down her 10th rebound with 7:10 to go in the third quarter.

The 21 points matched the fewest South Carolina has allowed in its history.