No. 1 South Carolina found itself in a defensive battle on Thursday in South Dakota.
The Gamecocks (10-0) pulled away from South Dakota State (7-5) and came away with a 62-44 victory in Sioux Falls.
Both teams struggled mightily in the first quarter.
South Carolina scored just 11 points in the first 10 minutes and shot 4-15 from the field. Head coach Dawn Staley spoke about the defense prowess of the Jackrabbits on Wednesday, and they were disruptive early on.
South Dakota State didn’t look much better, scoring just 20 points at the half.
The Gamecocks got out to a 15-point lead in the third quarter and seemed to be pulling away, but the Jackrabbits halted their momentum and went into the final quarter down just nine points.
Myah Selland cut the lead to eight with a corner 3-point shot with 7:26 left in the fourth quarter. The team eventually cut the lead to six points after a pair of free throws secured a 7-0 run.
South Carolina got a big sequence late in the fourth. Kierra Fletcher knocked down a midrange shot and then Brea Beal got a steal on South Dakota State’s inbounds pass and finished a layup.
Zia Cooke knocked down a 3-pointer to grow the lead to 13, and the team didn’t look back from there.
The Gamecocks return home for two more home games before SEC play starts. USC will play Charleston Southern on Sunday at 2 p.m.
NEXT FOUR SOUTH CAROLINA WBB GAMES
Dec. 18: home vs. Charleston Southern, 2 p.m. (SEC Network Plus)
Dec 21: home vs. Coastal Carolina, noon (SEC Network Plus)
Dec. 29: home vs. Texas A&M, 7 p.m. (SEC Network or ESPN2)
Jan. 2: at Georgia, 7 p.m. (SEC Network)