Aliyah Boston showed once more her consistency is every bit as important as her enormous talent.
Boston had her program record-setting 73rd double double with 13 points and 14 rebounds as No. 1 South Carolina moved to 20-0 with a dominating 92-46 victory over Arkansas on Sunday.
Boston’s coach, Dawn Staley, has watched the 6-foot-5 All-American stay engaged and focused despite junk defenses with three or four players aiming to limit her production. Very little has worked the past four seasons.
“Mentally tough, mentally strong. Those are the separators for Aliyah,” Staley said.
Boston takes in the information and knows in the end she’ll get the better of things in nearly every game, Staley said.
“She’s at a place,” the coach said. “Where you really can’t stop her.”
Zia Cooke scored 24 points to lead the Gamecocks (8-0 Southeastern Conference), who won their 26th straight and seventh in a row over the Razorbacks (17-5, 4-3). And just like much of the past four seasons, the 6-foot-5 Boston was right in the center of things.
Boston, who tied the school mark set by Sheila Foster from 1979-82 at Vanderbilt this past Thursday, came out quickly with seven points and three boards in the first quarter. She was up to 11 points and six rebounds at the break.
Boston clinched the record with three rebounds on one offensive possession that she finished with a basket. She was taken out with 1:18 left in the third quarter to a loud ovation from the crowd — and South Carolina cruising 73-33.
“Hey, y’all got room for another statue?” asked Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors, referring to the statue of South Carolina great A’ja Wilson outside the arena.
It’s not that far fetched — except for the ultra humble Boston, who typically deflects attention to her teammates. She surprised herself with her steady play over the years.
“Coming in (to college), I didn’t really know this was a record,” Boston said. “To do it, is very exciting because, wow, who’d have thought.”
Foster, now second in South Carolina double doubles, was in attendance. She smiled and waved to the crowd after Boston surpassed her.
Boston is 13 away from catching LSU great Sylvia Fowles for the SEC mark of 86 double-doubles set from 2004-08.
The NCAA mark is way out of reach. Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris had 128 from 2006-09 and Boston is widely expected to be the WNBA’s No. 1 overall pick after this season.
Cooke, the team’s top scorer this season, had 19 points by halftime as South Carolina blew things open in the second quarter by outscoring Arkansas 28-7 to lead 53-24.
Kamilla Cardoso, South Carolina’s 6-7 backup, ended with 12 points and tied her career best with 16 rebounds.
Samara Spencer had 15 points to lead Arkansas, which was outrebounded 74-17 overall and 32-2 on the offensive boards.
The Razorbacks took No. 3 LSU down to the wire before falling 79-76 this past Thursday. Facing the SEC’s two undefeated teams on the road in consecutive games proved too much for Arkansas. Neighbors said he expects his team to flush this performance and continue a solid season as it competes for a top-four seed to the SEC Tournament.
The Gamecocks are the first in Division I to 20 victories — 19-0 Ohio State and LSU play on Monday — and have started 20-0 for just the third time in coach Dawn Staley’s 15 seasons. Both previous perfect runs in 2015 and 2016 got to 22-0 and were ended by UConn. South Carolina has two games to play before heading to UConn on Feb. 5
South Carolina put on a rebounding show against Arkansas, grabbing 74 boards to its opponents 17. ESPN posted that the 57 rebound edge was the highest in women’s basketball against a Division I opponent in 20 years. The Gamecocks did even better on the offensive glass, winning that battle 32-2.
Arkansas returns home to play Alabama on Thursday night. South Carolina plays at Alabama on Jan. 29.