COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Freshman Aliyah Boston scored 14 points and was an immovable force in the middle of the South Carolina defense, blocking five shots to help the No. 8 Gamecocks beat No. 4 Maryland 63-54 on Sunday in an early matchup between two of the nation’s premier women’s basketball programs.
South Carolina (2-0) never trailed in its first road test.
The Terrapins (1-1) return all five starters from a squad that went 29-5 and won the Big Ten regular-season title. The Gamecocks led by 10 at halftime, upped the margin to 14 in the third quarter and remained comfortably in front the rest of the way.
After guiding South Carolina to a 23-10 record and an appearance in the Sweet 16 last season, coach Dawn Staley is counting on a retooled roster that features only two seniors and one junior. Seniors Tyasha Harris and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan were joined in the starting lineup by freshmen Zia Cooke, Boston and Brea Beal.
The 6-foot-5 Boston was a difference-maker. Not only did go 6 of 10 from the floor, but she grabbed seven rebounds and altered many a shot in the lane.
Maryland blasted Wagner 119-56 in the opener, but the Terrapins found it much more difficult to score against an aggressive South Carolina defense that jammed the inside and harassed the Terrapins’ long-range shooters.
Freshman Ashley Owusa scored 17 for the Terps, who shot 31% and finished 2 for 16 from beyond the arc.
Harris scored 13 for the Gamecocks, Cooke added 10 and Beal had a team-high 10 rebounds.
A year ago, Maryland went to South Carolina and rallied from an early 12-point deficit to register an 85-61 victory.
In this one, the Gamecocks bolted to a 14-8 lead behind Boston, who had eight points and three rebounds in the opening six minutes.
South Carolina expanded the advantage to 28-19 while the Terrapins went through a 1-for-12 dry spell, and led 34-24 at halftime after limiting Maryland to nine points on 4-for-20 shooting in the second quarter.
Down 38-24 early in the third quarter, the Terrapins cut it to 44-38 late in the period but simply could not get production from their most skilled shooters.
Kaila Charles finished with 11 points on 5-for-18 shooting and Taylor Mikesell failed to score. Both were picked to the All-Big Ten Preseason team.
South Carolina: Huge road win for the Gamecocks, whose rebuild with six newcomers is already in full swing.
Maryland: This defeat should drop the Terps out of the Top 5, but it’s likely only a temporary setback for a deep team adjusting to a lineup with two starting freshmen.
South Carolina stays on the road for a matchup against Dayton on Wednesday night.
Maryland opens its road schedule Wednesday night at James Madison.
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