Boston debuts with triple-double for No. 8 South Carolina
By JEFFREY COLLINS
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Aliyah Boston had a debut for South Carolina like no other.
The freshman had 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks to lead the No. 8 Gamecocks to a 103-43 win over Alabama State in Tuesday night's season opener.
Boston's triple-double was the seventh in South Carolina history and the first by a freshman. Not even Gamecock great and WNBA all-star A'ja Wilson had one in her four years.
"So much fun. We pushed the ball, we got good shots up, everybody was hitting, we did great on defense - it was amazing," Boston said.
Coach Dawn Staley put Boston back in the game in the fourth quarter, telling her she was two blocks away. After she swatted her final shot out of bounds, several teammates bounced off her and Staley subbed her out to huge cheers.
"She's got a promising future," Staley said. "This is just the tip of the iceberg."
Boston is one of four freshmen in the Gamecocks' top-rated class. They played sloppily at times. The Gamecocks had eight first-half turnovers.
But South Carolina blistered the Hornets with a 36-9 third quarter.
The other highly touted freshmen contributed, too. Zia Cooke scored 13 points in 24 minutes, Brea Beal had four points in 17 minutes and Laeticia Amihere scored six in 14 minutes as she recovers from a knee injury suffered in January.
Even the least heralded of the freshman, Olivia Thompson from nearby Lexington, who loved South Carolina enough to agree to be a walk-on, got into the action, scoring 10 points in 7 minutes - all in the fourth quarter.
"Throughout the season our team is going to grow a lot," Thompson said.
Senior Mikiah Herbert Harrigan had 13 points for the Gamecocks.
Ayana Emmanuel led Alabama State with 12 points.
It was the sixth time in Staley's 12 seasons at South Carolina that her team has scored at least 100 points.
Boston wasn't the only one seeking a milestone. Junior LeLe Grissett persuaded Staley to put her back in the game in the fourth quarter with her own argument.
"If she got a double-double, her entire class gets 30 points for a test or an exam or whatever it was," Staley said. "If I can put somebody back in for a triple-double, certainly I can put someone back in for an academic advantage."
Alas, there will be no extra credit for Grissett's classmates. She finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
South Carolina matched a school record with 16 blocks and Boston's 10 blocks tied the school record and were the most ever by a freshman.
The Gamecocks' 103 points were the most in a season opener and the second most in Staley's 12 years as coach.
Alabama State: The Hornets held their own for a while, trailing by 19 at the half. They were beaten by 56 points in last season's opener against South Carolina. Seven Hornets scored, and that depth could be important for a team picked to finish fourth in the 10-team Southwestern Athletic Conference.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have a schedule designed to let a young team ease into the season. Yes, there is a game at No. 4 Maryland, but after that, the only other ranked team South Carolina faces before January is second-ranked and defending national champion Baylor.
South Carolina has made the last 132 AP Top 25 polls. It should run the nation's fifth-best active poll streak to 133 weeks regardless of what happens Sunday at Maryland.
Alabama State hosts Mobile in the Hornets' home opener Saturday before a road game against Clemson on Nov. 18.
South Carolina has a two-game road swing, heading to No. 4 Maryland on Sunday, then to Dayton on Nov. 13.
More AP women's basketball: https://apnews.com/Womenscollegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25
Updated November 5, 2019