TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — South Carolina’s defense and ravenous rebounding were more than enough to roll over Alabama.
A’ja Wilson scored 16 points and Alaina Coates added 13 points and a career-high 18 rebounds in No. 3 South Carolina’s 66-46 victory over the Crimson Tide on Monday night.
The Gamecocks (26-1, 14-0 Southeastern Conference) continued their league stranglehold after already clinching a third straight regular season title. They dominated the boards and defensively.
South Carolina held Alabama (14-13, 3-11) to 28.6 percent shooting and outrebounded the Crimson Tide 58-31.
“We got it done,” Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley said. “We knew Alabama was going to kind of hang in there and at some point impose their will. We just had to be able to sustain doing what we do.
“We didn’t shoot the ball as well as we’d like but we rebounded the ball and we gave ourselves a lot of opportunities to make baskets.”
Coates picked up her league-leading 14th double-double and topped her best rebounding performance by one, taking advantage of a size mismatch.
“It’s pretty exciting,” she said. “I kind of noticed that they weren’t as aggressive boxing out so I just kind of took the opportunity to get the long rebounds.”
Wilson collected 10 rebounds and had three blocked shots. Tiffany Mitchell added 10 points and reached double digits with a layup off a behind-the-back pass from Bianca Cuevas midway through the fourth quarter. Khadijah Sessions had 11 rebounds.
Shaquera Wade had 11 points for Alabama, which couldn’t overcome South Carolina’s bigger lineup or hit 3-pointers, making just 3 of 28 attempts.
“We weren’t able to overcome the size disadvantage and we weren’t able to make shots,” Alabama coach Kristy Curry said. “I thought coming into tonight if we could make 10 3s we’d give ourselves a chance.”
The Gamecocks maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half for their fourth straight win since falling to No. 1 Connecticut.
South Carolina took a 45-31 lead into the fourth quarter after collecting three offensive rebounds on its final possession. Sarah Imovbioh finished the sequence with a layup for the Gamecocks’ biggest lead to that point.
The margin burgeoned to 24 during a dominant final period.
The Gamecocks, who came in averaging an SEC-best 72 points in league games, were held at least 10 points below that for the third straight game. The defensive play more than made up for the 38 percent shooting performance.
Hannah Cook, Alabama’s leading scorer, had three points on 1-of-12 shooting.
South Carolina seniors Mitchell, Asia Dozier and Sessions broke the Class of 2015’s school record for wins over a four-year period, improving to 114-17.
The Gamecocks collected the third-most rebounds of Staley’s 7-plus season tenure, one behind the 59 against Florida in Jan. 2013. The high was 62 against College of Charleston in November 2013.
Alabama didn’t make a basket over a 6:30 stretch carrying over into the second quarter, missing 11 straight before Meoshonti Knight’s layup. The Tide was 9 of 34 in the first half (26.5 percent) .
South Carolina: Has won the last 12 meetings and improved to 9-8 in Tuscaloosa. ... Committed 16 turnovers and had 16 assists.
Alabama: Has lost eight of its last nine games. ... Had just eight turnovers while making 10 steals.
South Carolina visits Mississippi on Thursday night.
Alabama hosts Tennessee on Thursday night.