- Associated Press - Sunday, December 6, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - In a physical game against a top 15 team, No. 2 South Carolina couldn’t hit an outside shot. Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley knew where she had to turn.

South Carolina started to pound it inside to A’ja Wilson and the 6-foot-5 sophomore scored a career-best 28 points to lead the Gamecocks to a 66-55 win over No. 14 Duke on Sunday.

“She was pretty much the only one being aggressive,” Staley said.

Staley’s other inside choice, Alaina Coates, was on the bench with three fouls while the Blue Devils (7-2) stretched their lead to 36-31 in the third quarter.

Wilson had a three-point play, then drew shooting fouls her next two possessions, sinking all four foul shots for South Carolina (8-0). It was Wilson’s fifth double-double of the season, but her first in three games.

Wilson won last year’s game over the Blue Devils with a last-second putback. This year, she smiled as she hit a bucket with 1.6 seconds left that set her career best.

South Carolina shot 28 free throws but Duke went to the line just 13 times in a physical, punishing game that included technicals called on Blue Devils coach Joanne P. McCallie and freshman Angela Salvadores.

McCallie was disgusted with the officiating after the game, pointing out the free-throw disparity even though South Carolina played almost all man-to-man defense and she was in a zone. She said officials missed hand checks that should be called under the new rules emphasis this year, as well as shoves and pushes.

“The women’s game is a mess, officiating-wise,” McCallie said. “A mess.”

Wilson said she was getting knocked around, too. The beatings would have knocked her off track last season.

“I’m starting to get used to it now,” Wilson said.

Duke made one more push to lead 50-49 midway through the fourth quarter, but reigning Southeastern Conference MVP Tiffany Mitchell shook off a horrible game to draw a foul and make both free throws. Coates, who scored 10 of South Carolina’s first 18 points, added six points as the Gamecocks finished on a 17-5 run.

Coates finished with 16 points, while Mitchell had 12 and shot just 3 of 13 from the field.

Kyra Lambert led Duke with a career-high 16 points. Azura Stevens added 11 points and nine rebounds.

___

‘THE HYPOCRISY OF IT ALL’

McCallie spent a couple of minutes talking about her displeasure with the officials.

“Aren’t those touches supposed to be fouls? When people are beating on people with two hands, is that supposed to be a foul?” she said.

McCallie got a technical for complaining after one of her players fell to the floor with no call late in the second quarter. Salvadores got another technical with Duke up 51-50. South Carolina’s Khadijah Sessions said she thinks the referee thought Salvadores kicked her, but even Sessions said the contact appeared to be accidental.

“The hypocrisy of it all is just something, isn’t it? Sure you are going to clean up the game. Sure, you are going to let people beat on people,” McCallie said.

TIP-INS:

Duke: Rebecca Greenwell’s turnover gave South Carolina the ball last season, then Wilson’s putback gave the Gamecocks a 51-50 win. Greenwell struggled Sunday, scoring four points on 2-of-9 shooting with three turnovers.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks remain the only major college whose men’s and women’s basketball teams are undefeated. South Carolina’s men are 8-0. … South Carolina’s last loss at home was 50-48 to Texas A&M; in February 2013. The Gamecocks miss Tennessee and Mississippi State, the two highest ranked SEC teams, but do face No. 1 Connecticut on Feb. 8 at the Colonial Life Center. … South Carolina never trailed in the first half, but never led by more than eight.

UP NEXT:

Duke: The Blue Devils host Massachusetts on Dec. 14.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks host Winthrop on Dec. 13.

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