Everywhere Alabama players tried to go there was a Gamecock player there waiting.
Sometimes there were two.
South Carolina contested shots, forced turnovers, grabbed rebounds and harassed Alabama shooters on Sunday to take a 93-78 victory at Coleman Coliseum.
The No. 4 Gamecocks showed why they are a top SEC and national contender, outrebounding Alabama 42-33 and scoring 28 points on fast breaks to Alabama’s six.
“I thought we missed some shots and let that affect us on the other end,” Alabama coach Kristy Curry said. “I thought we stuck with the game plan and as the game went on we started to understand the plan would pay off. We just weren’t able to dig ourselves out of the hole we created in the first quarter.”
Alabama fell behind 10-0 at the start but scored seven straight to get back on track. Zia Cooke took control for the Gamecocks with a 3-pointer and a jumper to put Alabama back on the defensive.
The Crimson Tide tried to hang around in the second quarter and pulled within five points. The Gamecocks, however, outscored Alabama 14-5 the rest of the way to build a 42-27 lead.
South Carolina controlled the inside, scoring 38 points in the paint. Alabama did have 32 points in the paint, but just 12 in the first half.
“I think in the first half we were too rushed, we were trying so hard instead of being patient and letting the game come to us and getting the best possible shot,” Curry said. “I thought we were better in the second half.”
Alabama didn’t go away quietly. A big 3-pointer from De’Shea Benjamin and a basket by Ariyah Copeland brought the Crimson Tide to within 10 points in the third quarter.
Jasmine Walker and Jordan Lewis did what they could to help Alabama break through, hitting big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. But All-SEC player Tyasha Harris and Zia Cooke answered for South Carolina with their own 3-pointers to keep the 10-point cushion.
Lewis led Alabama with 21 points while Walker scored 13, going 3-for-7 on 3-pointers. Benjamin had 12 points while Cierra Johnson and Megan Abrams each had 10 points.
Five players for South Carolina were in double figures with Cooke leading the way with 20. Destanni Henderson and Aliyah Boston each had 17 and Harris had 14.
Alabama (10-5, 0-2 SEC) hosts No. 13 Kentucky on Thursday.
Reach Edwin Stanton at 205-722-0226, email@example.com or via Twitter, @edwinstantonu2