South Carolina edged Hampton, 45-34, on Thursday in the first game of the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam.
In a game that saw more rebounds than points, the Gamecocks (5-0) got a double-double from sophomore Aleighsa Welch (16 points, 11 rebounds). Of Welch’s 16 points, 12 came in the second half, including 10 of the team’s first 13 in the period.
Offense was tough to come by for both teams in the first half with the Gamecocks edging out to a 19-13 lead heading into the locker room. The teams combined for 12 field goals in the first 20 minutes, and South Carolina stayed in front behind solid rebounding and 50 percent 3-point shooting.
Tiffany Mitchell put South Carolina up 5-0 with a 3-pointer from the right side, the second of the season for the slashing guard.
Hampton pulled within a point at 5-4 before a four-minute scoring drought set in. Ashley Bruner ended it with a basket from the left block, and Asia Dozier stretched the lead to 10-4 with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.
The Gamecocks put together three straight baskets in the longest scoring surge of the half, kicked off by a 3 from Wilka Montout and helped by three straight turnovers from the Pirates.
Mitchell made them pay for the first with a driving layup, and Welch put back a miss for a 17-6 Gamecock lead with 3:30 left in the half. Hampton answered by scoring on three straight possessions to draw within six.
Things picked up out of the locker room as Welch took control of the paint and Ieasia Walker had her shot dialed in from outside. Welch scored the first six points of the half to give the Gamecocks a 25-15 lead.
South Carolina takes on Florida Gulf Coast at 3:30 p.m. Friday, before squaring off with DePaul at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.