AUBURN, Ala. — When Tiffany Mitchell and the South Carolina Gamecocks found themselves down by double digits early in their road game at Auburn, they did not panic.
The Gamecocks clawed back into the game on what has gotten them to the top 10 this season defense.
Were the hunted at this point, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. We knew Auburn would come out and play extremely well at home. We just had to keep our heads, stay calm and know that throughout the course of the game, there are going to be runs. We just had to wait for our run.
Mitchell had 18 points and six steals Sunday afternoon to lead No. 10 South Carolina to a 72-66 comeback victory at Auburn, which was held to 11-of-31 shooting in the second half.
We just decided to use our length some more and buckle down on defense, Mitchell said. Were known as a defensive team, so we just stuck to the mindset of getting stops to free up our offense.
Alaina Coates added 14 points for the Gamecocks (14-1, 4-0 SEC) in the victory. The 6-foot-4 freshman center scored all of her points in the first half and shot 4-for-5 from the field.
Auburn (10-6, 1-2) led by as many as 12 points in the first half before a late rally from the visiting Gamecocks, who entered the game ranked No. 3 nationally in scoring defense.
South Carolina took its first lead of the game in the first minute of the second half on an Asia Dozier 3-pointer. The Gamecocks extended their lead to 11 before Auburns guards pulled the Tigers to within five in the final minutes.
South Carolina, which shot 23-for-34 from the free throw line, hit some clutch foul shots in the final minute to hold onto the comeback victory.
After posting a season-low 7 points against Vanderbilt last Thursday, Auburn senior forward Tyrese Tanner led the Tigers offense with 16 points.
South Carolina is a very good team youve got to beat them to get that win, Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. Although we had chances and very good opportunities, we didnt do everything on every single possession to win the basketball game.
Due to Floridas loss to LSU earlier in the day, the Gamecocks are in sole possession of first place in the league. Its also the first time Staley has ever started an SEC season 4-0.
The Gamecocks continue their road swing at Texas A&M at 8 p.m. Thursday. The team returns to Colonial Life Arena at 3 p.m. Jan. 19 to face Alabama.
SOUTH CAROLINA (16-1)
Davis 0-1 0-0 0, Welch 3-7 4-8 10, Mitchell 6-13 5-5 18, Dozier 3-4 1-3 9, Ibiam 2-3 0-0 4, Gaines 0-0 1-2 1, Sessions 2-4 4-4 9, Montout 0-0 0-0 0, Roy 2-4 2-2 7, Coates 4-5 6-10 14. Totals 22-41 23-34 72.
Muhammad 1-7 3-5 5, Montgomery 5-10 1-2 13, Parker 4-5 0-0 8, Ty. Tanner 6-14 3-4 16, Tr. Tanner 2-6 4-4 8, Tucker 1-2 2-2 4, Starr 0-0 1-3 1, Frerking 2-10 0-0 5, Brimfield 0-0 0-0 0, Davis 2-3 0-0 4, Capers 0-1 2-2 2, Dieng 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-58 16-22 66.
Halftime_Tied 39-39. 3-Point Goals_South Carolina 5-12 (Dozier 2-3, Mitchell 1-2, Roy 1-3, Sessions 1-3, Davis 0-1), Auburn 4-13 (Montgomery 2-4, Ty. Tanner 1-2, Frerking 1-6, Tucker 0-1). Fouled Out_Ty. Tanner. Rebounds_South Carolina 27 (Coates 6), Auburn 32 (Tr. Tanner 6). Assists_South Carolina 12 (Dozier, Sessions, Welch 3), Auburn 15 (Parker 7). Total Fouls_South Carolina 19, Auburn 27. A_2,453.