COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A'ja Wilson got her national championship ring, then scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds to lead No. 4 South Carolina to a 99-31 win over Alabama State on Friday night.
The party started before final warmups, with rings passed out and the title banner unveiled in the rafters.
And it continued after tip. Alabama State's Amber Hunt hit a 3 to put the Lady Hornets (0-1) up 3-2. South Carolina (1-0) would score the next 23 points. The Gamecocks also ended the first half with another 23-0 run.
The 68-point margin was the second-largest win at South Carolina for coach Dawn Staley.
The Gamecocks forced 29 turnovers and held Alabama State to 20 percent (11-of-54) shooting.
South Carolina returned just two starters from their first national title team and had three players selected in the first 10 picks of this year's WNBA draft. But Wilson, an all-American the past two seasons, is back after 11 double-doubles last season. The senior is joined by Lindsey Spann, a senior transfer from Penn State, who scored 16 in her Gamecock debut.
Alabama State: Lady Hornets coach Freda Freeman-Jackson got to check on her daughter during her first semester of college. South Carolina freshman Bianca Jackson had eight points and six rebounds. Nine of the 10 Lady Hornets who played scored. Hunt led the team with eight points.
South Carolina: Staley opens her 10th season with the Gamecocks. No coach in the Southeastern Conference has been with a team longer. Friday's game ended a whirlwind offseason for Staley. She took over the U.S. national team this summer along with countless appearances across the country. Senior and likely starter the rest of the year Bianca Cuevas-Moore sat out with a sore knee.
Alabama State: The Lady Hornets play their home opener on their redesigned floor at the Dunn-Oliver Acadome on Monday against Savannah State.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks get a much tougher test Monday at No. 15 Maryland.
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