COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — South Carolina checked one goal off what the top-ranked Gamecocks hope is a long list of accomplishments to come this season by winning the Southeastern Conference regular-season title.
“I want this team to get everything that they deserve, everything that they worked for, everything that they earned,” coach Dawn Staley said after her team routed Texas A&M 89-48 on Thursday night. “And this is one of the things that we wanted to do.”
South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston had 18 points and 10 rebounds in three quarters. She set an SEC record with her 20th consecutive double-double, passing former LSU star Sylvia Fowles.
“This league puts you in a position to do some historical things,” Staley said. “And that’s exactly what it did for for Aliyah. I’m so happy for her. She gets her name etched in history.”
The Gamecocks (26-1, 14-1) took control during the first half and cruised to their 14th consecutive victory.
Texas A&M (14-13, 4-11) got 11 points from Jordan Nixon as the Aggies dropped their fourth straight in coach Gary Blair’s last home game. He plans to retire after the season.
“When you play No. 1 in the country, you owe it to the game itself to try to live up for that moment,” Blair said. “We didn’t quite do it.”
South Carolina led by 21 at halftime and a 7-1 run early in the third quarter made it 51-24. Boston scored nine points during a 13-3 run that extended the lead to 64-29 late in the third quarter.
Chants of “MVP!” rained down from a small but vocal section of South Carolina fans as Boston made two free throws to cap the run before heading to the bench for good.
“We played one of the most complete games that we’ve played all season long,” Staley said. “We didn’t have lapses on either side of the basketball. If we turned it over, we corrected it.”
The Aggies scored the first four points of the game, but South Carolina soon took over, using a 19-4 run to lead by 11 at the end of the first quarter. The Gamecocks were up by 12 with about seven minutes left in the first half before a 14-3 spurt pushed it to 37-14.
Lele Grissett had six points in that stretch for South Carolina.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks beat A&M 65-45 on Jan. 13. They’ve been great all season and only seem to be getting better as the conference tournament approaches.
Texas A&M: The Aggies are having subpar season after winning the SEC regular-season title and reaching the Sweet 16 last season. But Texas A&M is always dangerous in March and could still make some noise in the conference tournament in Blair’s last run.
LEAVING HIS MARK
Before the game, the court at Reed Arena was renamed “Gary Blair Court” to honor Blair, who led the Aggies to a national title in 2011 and is the winningest basketball coach in school history. A highlight video was played on the arena’s big screens before he posed for pictures in front of one of two places on the court that now bear his name in maroon script.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey was on hand to help celebrate Blair’s career and many fans held up signs thanking him.
This is Blair’s 37th season as a head coach. He took over at Texas A&M for the 2003-04 season.
Blair said he was “humbled and honored” by the naming of the court before deflecting attention away from himself in a postgame speech to the crowd.
“This is a we floor, not a me floor,” he said. “I’m tired of all the me times. It’s time that we realize this is we now. It’s for all of y’all.”
South Carolina: At Ole Miss on Sunday.
Texas A&M: Visits No. 25 Georgia on Sunday to wrap up the regular season.
More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25