South Carolina needed an extra session to turn away Ole Miss, Sunday. The Gamecocks took everything the Rebels could throw at them for 40 minutes before pulling away for a 64-57 overtime victory at the Pavilion in Oxford, Miss. Zia Cooke was the difference-maker as the Gamecocks point guard scored 24 points and took on the challenge of defending the Rebels top threat, Angel Baker. Cooke played 43 minutes and sealed the victory with a steal from Baker in the final minute of overtime.
Ole Miss disrupted USC for much of the game with a zone defense, limiting the usually efficient Aliyah Boston to 4 of 14 shooting. Boston (13 points, 12 rebounds) did come through a big basket in the extra period and posted her 17th double-double of the season, but the Rebels made her work for all of it. Brea Beal (8 points) played well defensively before fouling out for the first time in her career. Neither team shot particularly well with the Gamecocks making just 37.7% of their shots and Ole Miss hitting on 36.5%.
After struggling to get into an offensive flow and turning it over 15 times in regulation, Dawn Staley called on her team to move the ball and commit to attacking the zone in the extra frame. Cooke knocked down a pull-up jumper on the first possession of overtime before crisp ball movement resulted in post-up opportunities for Kamilla Cardoso and Boston. Cooke followed with a runner to give USC a six-point lead and effectively put the game out of reach. The Gamecocks (27-0, 14-0) made four of their six shots in overtime while ratcheting up the defensive intensity, limiting Ole Miss to a single basket.
Top-ranked South Carolina will next put its winning streak on the line at Tennessee, Thursday. Tipoff from Knoxville, Tenn. is set for 7 p.m.