Originally created 03/03/03

Lady Gamecocks breeze by Mississippi



OXFORD, Miss. -- Despite the absence of leading scorer Jocelyn Penn, No. 16 South Carolina had no trouble beating Mississippi.

Penn, the nation's fourth-leading scorer at 24.9 points per game, sat out the regular-season finale with a sprained ankle, but several Gamecocks picked up the slack in a 91-68 victory on Sunday.

"This game was for J.P," Gamecock guard Sarah Burgess, who had a career-high 15 points said. "We wanted to come out and play well without her and we were able to get off to a fast start."

Cristina Ciocan had 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists, Kelly Morrone scored 19 points, Petra Ujhelyi had 16 and Olga Gritsaeva 10 for South Carolina.

South Carolina started the game with a 13-0 run and scored its second-highest point total of the season.

The Gamecocks (21-6, 9-5 Southeastern Conference) have won four straight and finished tied for fifth in the SEC with Vanderbilt.

"It's not a surprise that we scored that many because our team really does a good job finding open people and that starts with our point guard (Cristina Ciocan)," South Carolina coach Susan Walvius said. "We're playing our best basketball of the season right now."

Amber Watts had 18 points and eight rebounds to lead Ole Miss (12-15, 1-13), which lost its final 13 SEC games to match its worst conference record ever.

Tia Watson had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Lady Rebels.

South Carolina outscored Ole Miss 21-9 in the final seven minutes of the first half to take control of the game. Morrone hit two 3-pointers during the run, the second with 1:10 left to make it 40-26.

South Carolina led 42-26 at halftime.

Ole Miss cut the lead to 13 early in the second half on a free throw by Watts, but it never got any closer.

"We made a run but then we had breakdowns while South Carolina was very opportunistic on the other end," Ole Miss coach Ron Aldy said. "They really played well as a team and they were very, very impressive today."

Burgess scored six straight points for South Carolina to extend the lead to 49-32 with 17 minutes left.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Ciocan and Koretha Johnson increased the lead to 63-41 with 10:41 left.

Ole Miss and South Carolina will meet again in the first round of the SEC tournament on Thursday.