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USC beats Mercer, plays Oregon State Tuesday

Sophomore sensation Aliyah Boston led the Gamecocks to the second round of the NCAA Women's Tournament (Credit: South Carolina Athletics)

No. 1 seed University of South Carolina defeated No. 16 seed Mercer, 79-53, in a first-round NCAA Women’s National Tournament game in the Hemisfair Region at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas on Sunday.

Junior Victaria Saxton and sophomore Aliyah Boston had 20 points each for South Carolina, while sophomores Zia Cooke added 13 points and forward Laeticia Amihere added 11 off the bench. Boston had a game-high 18 rebounds.

South Carolina (23-4) grabbed the lead for good when it closed the first half with a 16-5 run. The Gamecocks pulled away to its 26-point win in the final two quarters.

Neal-Tysor had 15 points for Mercer (19-7). Jada Lewis added 14 points, and Shannon Titus finished with 12.

USC women’s head coach Dawn Staley earned her 500th career win.

“I thought overall, we settled down and we were able to play both sides of the ball like we normally do,” said Staley.

USC plays No. 8 seed Oregon State (12-7) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a second round game. The game will be televised on ESPN.

When the Final Four was last played in Texas, the Gamecocks were National Champions in 2017.

USC finished 32-1 last season and spent the final 10 weeks at No. 1. Although Staley was the AP Coach of the Year, the Gamecocks did not get a chance to win another title because the NCAA Tournament was canceled because of the pandemic.

In her 13 seasons at South Carolina, Staley is 328-102 after going 172-80 in eight seasons at Temple. In their ninth consecutive NCAA tourney, the SEC Tournament champion Gamecocks have won in the first round each time.

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