COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A'ja Wilson scored 29 points and Alexis Jennings had 19 as No. 5 South Carolina bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 101-43 pummeling of Western Carolina on Thursday night.
The Gamecocks (7-1) fell behind 2-0, then broke off a 17-0 run powered by the 6-foot-5 Wilson and 6-2 Jennings that put the game out of reach for the Catamounts (1-5) of the Southern Conference.
Wilson and Jennings combined to score the team's first eight points then never let up against their overmatched opponent. It was a welcome beatdown for South Carolina, which fell to No. 3 Notre Dame 92-85 in the finals of the Gulf Coast Showcase.
Wilson, the two-time defending Southeastern Conference player of the year, has turned her scoring up for the defending national champions, scoring 33, 17, 34 and 29 points her past four games. She came close to her third 30-point game of the season, but was taken out for good with five minutes remaining.
Wilson made 13 of 19 shots and grabbed seven rebounds.
Lauren Laplant, Sherae Bonner and Nikki Johnson had eight points each to lead Western Carolina.
It was South Carolina's first time hitting the century mark since last year's NCAA Tournament run as it defeated Quinnipiac 100-58 in the round of 16. It was the Gamecocks' biggest margin of victory since topping Savannah State 111-49 in December 2014.
THE BIG PICTURE
Western Carolina: The Catamounts were terribly outmatched against the Gamecocks and settled for long, outside shots that they won't once Southern Conference season rolls around.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks pushed their size advantage and athleticism on defense to make short work of Western Carolina. South Carolina outrebounded the Catamouts 28-10 the first 20 minutes and forced 15 turnovers. South Carolina needed a feel-good game after its loss to Notre Dame with No. 14 Duke ahead on Sunday.
South Carolina played without Penn State graduate transfer guard Lindsey Spann, who was out with a knee sprain. Spann had averaged nearly 14 points a game and started every game. With senior Bianca Cuevas-Moore unable to play so far this season with a knee injury, the Gamecocks are short on backcourt depth with just four games left before the start of Southeastern Conference play.
Western Carolina returns home for the first time in more than two weeks when it plays Florida A&M on Saturday.
South Carolina takes on No. 14 Duke on Sunday.
© 2017 Associated Press