Cooke leads No. 1 Gamecocks to 66-59 win over No. 8 Terps


Maryland guard Ashley Owusu (15) drives to the hoop against South Carolina forward Laeticia Amihere (15) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Zia Cooke scored 20 points, including the go-ahead layup with 5:13 to play, as No. 1 South Carolina outlasted No. 8 Maryland 66-59 on Sunday for its fourth victory over a top-10 opponent this season.

Aliyah Boston added 16 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocked shots for the Gamecocks, who improved to 10-0 for the first time in six seasons.

Not that it came easily against Maryland (9-3). The Terrapins overcame a 53-47 deficit in the fourth quarter with eight straight points closed by Faith Masonius’ basket.

That’s when Cooke turned things around, tying the game with a pair of foul shots. On the next possession, Cooke stole the ball from Ashley Owusu and streaked out for the layup.

The Terrapins closed within 61-59 on Angel Reese’s three-point play with 2:04 remaining, but South Carolina held them scoreless the rest of the way.

Angel Reese had 20 points to lead the Terrapins, who sere seeking their first win over a No. 1 team since topping North Carolina in 2006.

Cooke and Boston, juniors who were part of South Carolina’s No. 1-ranked recruiting class three seasons ago, both went over the 1,000-point mark in their careers.

Brea Beal had 10 rebounds and Laeticia Amihere had eight as South Carolina outrebounded the Terrapins 61-34. The Gamecocks also posted 15 blocks to Maryland’s four.

Maryland entered ninth in the country in points scored while the Gamecocks are 12th nationally in scoring defense. It was defense front-and-center early on as both teams struggled to find some offensive rhythm.

The teams were a combined 10-of-34 shooting the first 10 minutes. The Terrapins packed the middle to limit Boston’s movement near the basket, while South Carolina’s height advantage had it blocking seven shots in the opening period.

South Carolina took its first lead on LeLe Grissett’s bucket. After Katie Benzan’s 3-pointer put Maryland back in front, Cooke hit a long-range basket to start a 10-2 run.

Cooke added a pair of foul shots and a jumper in the final minute as South Carolina led 34-30 at the half.


  • Coming off a school-record 16 blocks in its last game, South Carolina’s interior defense kept rolling early Sunday. The Gamecocks sent back seven Maryland shots in the first quarter, two apiece from Aliyah BostonKamilla Cardoso and Laeticia Amihere. Boston finished with a season-high seven blocks and South Carolina totaled 15 as a team, the second-highest total for a game in program history.
  • Zia Cooke picked the perfect time to score her 1,000th career point, hitting a 3-pointer with 7:23 to play in the second quarter. The basket was the first in an 8-0 run that broke the game open for South Carolina, pushing the Gamecocks out to a 25-19 lead.
  • Cooke is the 36th member of the program to reach 1,000 career, achieving the milestone in 74 career games. The last member to reach 1,000 points were Tyasha Harris and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan during the 2019-20 season. The last Gamecock to reach 1,000 in their junior year or earlier was A’ja Wilson, who reached the milestone as a sophomore in 2015-16.
  • The historic basket sparked an explosive second quarter for Cooke, who scored 10 of the team’s 21 points in the period to lead the team to a 34-30 lead at halftime. The junior guard finished with a game-high 20 points, her second 20-point game of the season (13th of her career).
  • Aliyah Boston joined Cooke as the 37th member in the 1,000-point club with a basket with 1:28 to play in the third quarter. She too reached 1,000 in her 74th career game. Sunday marked the ninth time in program history that teammates reached 1,000 career points in the same season.
  • Along with her scoring milestone, Boston led the team with 16 rebounds to go with 16 points. The junior all-american now has four double-doubles in her last five games.
  • Senior leader Lele Grissett made her season debut in the closing seconds of the first quarter and sparked the team with four points and three rebounds in four minutes of action in the second quarter. Grissett’s last action came in the SEC Tournament Championship on March 7, 2021.
  • South Carolina enjoyed a 61-34 advantage in rebounding, the +27 margin is the widest of the season to date and is the best against a top-10-ranked opponent in the Dawn Staley Era.
  • The rebounding dominance was on full display in a key 7-0 run from the seven-minute mark of the third quarter until 3:48 remained. The Gamecocks enjoyed an 8-1 rebounding advantage in that run, with six of those boards on the offensive side of the court, and the team pushed out to a 47-40 lead.
  • Brea Beal spearheaded the rebounding efforts in the third, with five boards (three offensive) to lead the Gamecocks. She finished with 10 in the game, the ninth game of her career with 10 or more rebounds.
  • The Gamecocks’ 61 rebounds are the fourth-most in a single game in the Dawn Staley era. Of the top six rebounding totals under Staley, three have come in the last two seasons alone.
  • 24 of the 61 rebounds were on the offensive glass, leading to a pivotal 24-6 advantage in second-chance points for the game. Victaria Saxton’s career-high seven offensive rebounds led the team, with two coming in the closing minutes of the game. Saxton also entered the program’s career top 10 for blocks, passing Ilona Burgrova (2005-08).
  • Over the last five games, South Carolina is outscoring opponents 96-24 in second-chance points and the 24 points Sunday is a season high.

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