Ole Miss throws huge scare into No. 1 South Carolina

Published 6:58 pm Sunday, February 19, 2023

OXFORD (AP) — Zia Cooke scored five of her 24 points in overtime to help No. 1 South Carolina remain unbeaten with a 64-57 victory over Ole Miss on Sunday.

The defending national champion Gamecocks (27-0, 14-0 Southeastern Conference) got one of their biggest scares of the season before winning their 33rd straight game. The Rebels (20-7, 9-5) never trailed by more than six points in regulation and flirted with their first win over a No. 1 team in 46 years.

Cooke had six rebounds and four assists to help off-set a 7-of-18 shooting performance. Aliyah Boston added 13 points and 11 rebounds on 4-of-14 shooting and didn’t score in the first quarter.

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The deep Gamecocks didn’t get their usual supply of scoring help for the two stars, though Kamilla Cardoso had eight points and 11 boards.

Angel Baker led Ole Miss with 17 points. Snudda Collins added 11 while Marquesha Davis had nine points and seven rebounds. Rita Igbokwe blocked six shots.

It was only the third single-digit margin and second overtime game for the defending national champions, who had been winning by an average of 33.5 points. The first two came against No. 3 Stanford (76-71 in overtime) and No. 6 Connecticut (81-77). South Carolina dominated overtime, 9-2.

Cooke’s second basket of overtime matched South Carolina’s biggest lead to that point, 63-57, with 1:33 left. The teams swapped turnovers but Ole Miss missed three shots trying to stay alive, including two straight 3-point tries by Baker after offensive rebounds.

Cooke, who had scored South Carolina’s first eight points of the game, then made one of two foul shots.

Ole Miss had rallied from a six-point deficit over the final 7 minutes to force overtime.

Baker had a steal and layup and then gave Ole Miss its first lead since the opening minutes with a jumper to go up 55-54 with 1:20 left. Then Igbokwe blocked two shots by Boston to preserve the edge.

With 30 seconds left, Boston made 1 of 2 free throws to tie it up. Ole Miss turned it over without getting a shot off, and Boston couldn’t make one at the buzzer as South Carolina finished regulation on a 1-of-11 slump.