Coates 24 leads No. 7 Gamecocks to 99-70 win

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 30, 2014 at 9:02 pm •  Published: January 30, 2014
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Freshman Alaina Coates doesn't see No. 7 South Carolina's front line as unstoppable, even if few Southeastern Conference opponents have figured out how to handle the Gamecocks underneath the boards.

The 6-foot-4 Coates tied her career high with 24 points, added 12 rebounds and helped South Carolina's forwards wear out Mississippi in a 99-70 victory Thursday night.

It was Coates' seventh game with double-figure points and rebounds, her fourth in SEC play for the Gamecocks (19-2, 7-1). And she wasn't alone. Teammate Elem Ibiam, a 6-4 junior, had 14 points, eight rebounds and five of South Carolina's seven blocked shots. Six-footer Aleighsa Welch had 11 points and four boards.

Combined, the trio consistently got close to the basket and combined to shoot 18 of 22 from the field against the Rebels (10-12, 1-7).

"I'm not going to say we're unstoppable, but I feel like having us in the paint, it's hard to stop us," Coates said. "We're going to continue to do what we do."

That's been plenty to stay atop the SEC, tied with No. 17 Texas A&M at 7-1. Ibiam says the forwards take pride in dominating down low.

"If I'm off, I always have my 'Big Girl' (Coates) in there and vice versa," Ibiam said. "We always have each other's back, so that's a good feeling."

Valencia McFarland led Ole Miss with 24 points, her fourth game in the past five with at least 20 points. Tia Faleru added 19 points.

The Gamecocks put things away when they closed the opening half with a 19-1 run to lead 44-25. The Rebels never got closer than 17 points after that.

"We've played a lot of top 10 teams this year and South Carolina is the best team we've played so far this season," Ole Miss coach Matt Insell said.

The lone drama left at the end was whether the Gamecocks would reach the century mark for the first time since the end of the 2007-08 season. They had a final possession with 16 seconds left when coach Dawn Staley told her players to dribble out the clock.

"It was the unpopular right decision," Staley said with a smile.