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No. 1 Gamecocks stay perfect in showdown win over No. 3 LSU

south carolina gamecocks

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 11: Kamilla Cardoso #10 of the South Carolina Gamecocks plays against the Liberty Lady Flames during their game at Colonial Life Arena on December 11, 2022 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Kamilla Cardoso had 18 points and 13 rebounds, Zia Cooke scored 17 and No. 1 South Carolina beat third-ranked LSU 88-64 on Sunday in a showdown of the last two unbeaten teams.

Aliyah Boston finished with 14 points and nine boards to help the Gamecocks win their 31st straight game.

The game, billed as a showcase between reigning AP player of the year Boston and Angel Reese, quickly become a highlight reel of South Carolina’s experience, talent and depth. The Gamecocks (25-0. 12-0 Southeastern Conference) ran out to an 18-2 lead as they ended the record start of LSU (23-1, 11-1).

Boston and Reese entered this with a combined 39 double doubles this season. Instead, it was the 6-foot-7 backup Cardoso who collected double figure points and rebounds.

Reese, the 6-foot-3 dominator, couldn’t get going against the Gamecocks’ withering inside presence, going 5-of-15 shooting for 16 points and four rebounds for her first game this season without double figure boards.

Boston, South Carolina’s career record holder with 76 games in double figure points and rebounds, also came up short with of that standard. Not that it matter twice blocked Reese’s shots in the third quarter as South Carolina took control for good.

Reese held her hands up, wondering where the foul was as she sat on the court.

LSU cut a 10-point halftime deficit to 45-40 on Reese’s inside bucket midway through the third quarter. But South Carolina closed the period on a 19-8 burst finished by Brea Beal’s second 3-pointer.

Her teammates rushed her after time ran out, celebrating like they had won a title. The Gamecocks sure proved who runs things this year in the women’s game.

The sold-out crowd was loud and raucous from the jump and went crazy when Staley, a Philadelphia native, came out in a classic Eagles’ Randall Cunningham jersey for her team’s Super Bowl Sunday warm up with LSU.

The Gamecocks then gave them even more to yell about as they took off on an 18-2 start the first six minutes that threatened to run the Tigers out of the building. Cooke scored six points in the surge while Brea Beal had a 3-pointer and a three-point play.

Alexis Morris led LSU with 23 points.

Boston and Cardoso each had three blocks for the Gamecocks.

BIG PICTURE

LSU: The Tigers were off to a strong start, but not faced a team like the Gamecocks. Second-year coach Kim Mulkey will have to come up with a better plan since it’s likely these team will play for the SEC Tournament title in three weeks.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks just continue their march toward more titles. In what was considered a defining stretch - UConn last Sunday, LSU a week later - South Carolina once more relied on its defensive dominance to remain perfect.

UP NEXT

LSU returns home to face Mississippi on Thursday night.

South Carolina is home against Florida on Thursday night.