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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Tiffany Mitchell scored 20 points and No. 10 South Carolina held off a late charge by Winthrop for a 69-61 victory Friday.
The Gamecocks (10-1) led by 19 points in the opening half, yet struggled to stay ahead down the stretch against the Eagles (6-3) of the Big South Conference. Erica Williams' jumper with 4:34 left drew Winthrop to 59-55. Mitchell then added a bucket to increase South Carolina's lead.
Schaquilla Nunn's put-back brought Winthrop within four points before Asia Dozier's two foul shots and Mitchell's jumper extended the margin to 65-57 with 1:55 to play. Winthrop could not get closer than five points the rest of the way.
Dozier had 14 points for the Gamecocks, who rallied after their first loss of the season Wednesday night against No. 14 North Carolina.
Dequesha McClanahan and Williams had 19 points each for the Eagles.
Mitchell had four 3-pointers, including one that turned into a four-point play to put the Gamecocks up 45-29 with just under 17 minutes left.
The Gamecocks played without starting point guard Khadijah Sessions, who injured her left ankle in a 74-66 defeat to No. 14 North Carolina in Myrtle Beach.
Sessions was on crutches on the bench. She's also expected to miss South Carolina's game with South Carolina State on Sunday.
The Gamecocks started fast and opened a 14-0 lead in less than five minutes behind Ibiam and Dozier.
Ibiam had three inside baskets while Dozier, who was 1-of-3 for three points in the North Carolina loss, hit both her first-half three-pointers before the Eagles scored a point.
Winthrop's first basket came on McClanahan's 3-pointer with 15:10 left in the period. The Eagles got within 22-10 on Pamela Decheva's 3-pointer before the Gamecocks took off on another surge, this time an 11-4 run that built a 33-14 lead.
While the Gamecocks held a strong height advantage, Winthrop did its best to keep up. The Eagles had as many offensive boards as South Carolina in the opening half and had just one more turnover (10) than their opponents.
Dozier was held scoreless after her strong start, yet topped the Gamecocks with eight points in the first half.
Sessions' replacement, Tiffany Davis, struggled and made only one of four attempts. She also drew the ire of coach Dawn Staley after a late turnover led to an open shot by McClanahan to end the half.
South Carolina's defensive struggles continued in the second half when Winthrop tightened up the game with a 17-8 run.
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