No. 1 South Carolina continues its home stretch against a Top 15 team in women’s basketball.
USC (6-0) will face No. 15 UCLA (7-0) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Colonial Life Arena. This will be the Gamecocks’ third game this year against a team in The Associated Press Top 25.
It will be the first true road game for UCLA, which has played four at home and three at a neutral site.
SOUTH CAROLINA VS. UCLA GAME INFO
Who: No. 15 UCLA Bruins (7-0) at No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks (6-0)
Where: Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C.
When: 7 p.m. (Eastern) Tuesday
TV: SEC Network
Stream: via ESPN app/ESPN.com
HOW HEALTHY IS ALIYAH BOSTON?
USC head coach Dawn Staley described Aliyah Boston’s availability as a “game-time decision” against UCLA.
Boston suffered a right foot injury during the team’s win against Hampton on Sunday. She was wearing a boot when she returned to the sideline, but was not wearing it during the team’s practice on Monday.
If Boston is a scratch for the Gamecocks, the team has plenty of depth at the post spots. Boston already starts alongside fifth-year senior Victaria Saxton, who stands at 6-foot-2.
The team also has the 6-foot-7 Kamilla Cardoso coming off the bench. Cardoso is second on the team to Boston in rebounds per game (6.8), and averages 8.4 points with 15.4 minutes per game.
Freshman forward Ashlyn Watkins has also been a bright spot for South Carolina. She’s third on the team with 9.3 points per game — on 71.4% shooting — and uses her athleticism and physicality to contribute on the floor.
The versatile Laeticia Amihere started the second half Sunday in Boston’s place, and she started three games last season when point guard Destanni Henderson went down with an injury. Amihere is averaging eight points off the bench this year.
BRUINS DOMINATE THE BAHAMAS
The Bruins came into the season outside of the Top 25 but have defeated some quality opponents to earn their place in the rankings.
Cori Close’s squad went undefeated in the Battle 4 Atlantis, defeating South Dakota State, then-No. 11 Tennessee and Marquette.
UCLA turned heads when it knocked down 16 3-pointers in the Nov. 20 win against the Lady Volunteers. The team didn’t make more than five 3s in its other two wins of the tournament.
South Carolina holds the height advantage over the Bruins, so finding a rhythm from long distance may be the team’s best bet against USC. UCLA has one starter who’s taller than 6 feet, while the Gamecocks start three players that height or taller.
UCLA has made strides in the early part of the season. The Bruins lost in the WNIT semifinal in March to South Dakota State, but they’re now a Top 15 team with a 7-0 record.
This is South Carolina’s third game against a ranked opponent this year, with Maryland and Stanford being the others. It’s USC’s first time hosting a ranked opponent this season.
The Gamecocks have won 16-straight games against ranked teams.
UCLA is averaging 76.1 points per game with a 16.1-point winning margin. South Carolina has scored 80 or more points in four of its first six games.
The Bruins make an average of seven 3-pointers per game, shooting 29.5% on those attempts.
South Carolina is out-rebounding teams by a 23.2 average margin. UCLA averages roughly five fewer rebounds per game than the Gamecocks.
USC defeated UCLA 66-57 in Columbia during its national championship season in 2016-17. The Gamecocks lead the all-time series 2-0, and Staley and Close were coaching at their respective programs in both meetings.
GAMECOCKS AND BRUINS PLAYERS TO WATCH
Aliyah Boston, F, South Carolina: Boston is a “game-time decision” for South Carolina, but her presence on the court would impact the way the game is played. Though her numbers are down from a season ago, she’s excelled against ranked opponents, averaging 15 points and 13 rebounds on 66.7% shooting in those games. Her 64 career double-doubles are the most among active players.
Zia Cooke, G, South Carolina: Cooke is the Gamecocks’ leading scorer with 13.8 points per game. She’s shooting 42.3% from 3-point range through six games. Look for Cooke to give the team scoring lifts when needed, especially if Boston is not 100%.
Charisma Osborne, G, UCLA: Osborne leads the Bruins in both points (20.1) and rebounds (7.1) this season. She’s recorded two double-doubles this year and has scored 20 or more points five times. Osborne is in her fourth year with UCLA.
Kiki Rice, G, UCLA: Rice has played well for the Bruins as a freshman. She’s second on the team with 11.3 points per game and leads the team with four assists per game. Rice scored a team-high 18 points in UCLA’s overtime win against Marquette in the Bahamas.