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No. 1 South Carolina cruises past Alabama, clinches share of SEC title

Eakin Howard / Getty Images Sport / Getty

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Ashlyn Watkins had 14 points and 10 rebounds and No. 1 South Carolina clinched a share of its third straight Southeastern Conference regular-season championship with a 72-44 win over Alabama on Thursday night, coach Dawn Staley's 600th career win.

The Gamecocks (26-0, 13-0 SEC) cruised without top scorer and rebounder Kamilla Cardoso, who felt sore after beating Georgia this past Sunday and got the game off.

But not having the 6-foot-7 dominator did not slow down South Carolina as it extended its SEC mark with its 44th regular-season league win and its 56th straight at home.

Neither team started strongly, combining to make just two of their first 19 attempts over the first five minutes.

Soon enough, though, the Gamecocks' offensive rhythm kicked in and they pulled away with a 22-5 run in the second quarter.

South Carolina held Alabama (20-8, 7-6) to just five field goals and 15.6% shooting in the first 20 minutes. Crimson Tide coach Kristy Curry tried to regroup her players with a couple of time outs, but nothing worked as South Carolina won its 22nd straight in the series — all since Staley took over in the 2008-09 season.

Jessica Timmons led Alabama with 20 points as its leading scorer, Sarah Ashlee Barker, was held to four points, 13 below her average.

Bree Hall had 13 points for South Carolina while Tessa Johnson added 12. It was Watkins' seventh double-double this season.


Alabama: The Crimson Tide picked the wrong game to have a bad shooting night. It was the fewest points any SEC team has had in a half and the fewest Alabama has ever scored in a half in program history. Still, the team is in strong position for its second straight NCAA Tournament bid.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks are more disjointed on offense without Cardoso to dominate down low. They will need her to be ready and focused when they try for their second straight SEC Tournament crown and another run to the Final Four next month.


Alabama returns home to play Mississippi State on Sunday.

South Carolina heads to Kentucky on Sunday.


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