AMES, Iowa — Zia Cooke scored 19 points and No. 1 South Carolina got back into a groove with a 83-65 win over 23rd-ranked Iowa State on Sunday.
The Gamecocks (4-1) were beaten by No. 8 N.C. State 54-46 on Thursday, but never trailed against the Cyclones (2-2) during the SEC/Big 12 Challenge matchup.
Cooke shot 4 of 6 from 3-point range, 6-of-12 overall, helping South Carolina finish 13 of 26 from behind the arc.
“That’s what offensive flow is,” Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley said. “The ball should find who should shoot it. Any team that is in rhythm, it’s a high possibility they’re going to make shots.”
Aliyah Boston and Brea Beal added 13 points each for South Carolina while Destanni Henderson had 12.
Ashley Joens scored 32 points for Iowa State, which shot just 37.1% for the game and was outrebounded 50-24.
“Basketball is a make-shot, miss-shot game,” Cyclones coach Bill Fennelly said. “And when you shoot it like (South Carolina) did and we shoot it how we shot it, you’ve got no chance.”
South Carolina held a 44-30 lead at halftime and made nine of its first 13 shots in the third quarter to put the game away.
Unlike last game when the Gamecocks struggled offensively, they jumped to a 10-0 lead in the opening moments, with Boston and Beal each contributing 5 points.
“We’ve had more focus in practice the last couple days, and rightfully so,” Staley said. “They just embraced it.”
Iowa State trimmed the margin to 16-15 late in the first quarter before South Carolina went on a 17-2 run and built a 33-17 advantage.
Joens was the only consistent offensive threat for the Cyclones, who made just five of 27 3-pointers. She went 11 of 22 from the floor and made all eight of her free throws. She also grabbed five rebounds.
“I’d say if there’s a better player in the country someone better call me and tell me,” Fennelly said.
The Gamecocks will fall from the top spot when the new poll comes out Monday. How far is the question. … Sunday marked Iowa State coach Fennelly’s second game back after missing two games due to COVID exposure.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks host Temple on Thursday, before taking a two week break prior to facing SEC rival Mississippi on Dec. 31.
Iowa State: The Cyclones travel to rival Iowa on Wednesday, then host North Dakota State on Saturday.