COLUMBIA, S.C. -- — South Carolina coach Dawn Staley has a better handle about what her new team is capable of. The rest of the country does, too, after two dominating performances to start the season.
Te-Hina Paopao scored 14 points, Chloe Kitts and Ashlyn Watkins both had double doubles and the sixth-ranked Gamecocks put up their most points ever against a ranked opponent in a 114-76 victory over No. 14 Maryland on Sunday.
That followed a stylish, 100-71 victory in Paris over No. 10 Notre Dame to start the season.
“This team has really, they're playing together, they have buy in with each other, they have buy in with the coaching staff,” Staley said. “I really didn't see it.”
That has been on full display this opening week.
Kitts had 13 points and 10 rebounds and helped fuel a game-changing, 17-4 burst right before halftime.
Kitts, who joined the program as a freshman midway through last season, got her first college double-double in front of her former teammates, “The Freshies:” Aliyah Boston, Zia Cooke and Brea Beal, who were on hand to receive their Final Four rings from a year ago.
Kitts didn't want to compare last year's team to this group. “We do everything,” she said of this year's team. “I guess we'll see where it goes.”
Watkins, also a sophomore, added 13 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. In all, South Carolina (2-0) had more than half their 11-player roster with double-figure points.
“I don't know that I've ever seen a box score with seven players in double figures,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said.
Watkins, a reserve last season who became the team's first-ever player to dunk in a game, posted her third career double-double.
It was the fifth straight loss to the Gamecocks for Maryland (1-1), a run of disappointment that included an 86-75 defeat in the Elite Eight last season. The Terps had not given up 100 points in almost 21 years.
Shyanne Sellers led the Terps with 21 points.
THE BIG PICTURE
Maryland: The Terps were in this one much of the first half until things went sideways, much like the Elite Eight contest. The team has seven newcomers who'll need time to find their rhythm, especially against top-10 programs like the Gamecocks.
South Carolina: It took a half for the Gamecocks to find the flow they had in Paris. Blame jet lag, a return to class, dorm food or whatever. South Carolina let Maryland shoot 7 of 12 on threes in the first 20 minutes. That dropped to 3 of 10 the final two quarters.
HONORING THE PAST
The program Staley built showed out in the season's first home game as two-time WNBA champion A'ja Wilson, a centerpiece of the 2017 NCAA Tournament champions, was on hand for the jersey retirement of her college teammate, two-time SEC player of the year Tiffany Mitchell.
Also courtside were the heart of the past three Final Four teams and the 2022 national champs in Boston, Cooke and Beal.
Maryland continues its top-10 sojourn with No. 2 UConn on Thursday night.
South Carolina takes on in-state rival Clemson on Thursday night.
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AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball
- Kevin Pethtel
- Brian Hall
- Natasha Curry