COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Aliyah Boston, looking healthy as ever, had 18 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks as No. 1 South Carolina rallied from 10-points down to beat No. 15 UCLA 73-64 on Tuesday night.
Boston had missed the second half in a win over Hampton on Sunday after a hard fall. She returned to the bench in that game with a walking boot on her right foot.
But Boston started and played 35 minutes against the Bruins (7-1) to help the Gamecocks (7-0) overcome a 31-21 deficit right before halftime to win their 17th straight over a ranked opponent.
It was Boston's 65th career double-double and 32nd against a ranked opponent over four seasons.
Georgia Tech transfer Kierra Fletcher had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds while the 6-foot-7 Kamilla Cardoso added a season-high 16 points, nine rebounds and five of the Gamecocks' 15 blocked shots.
The game was tied at 47-all entering the fourth quarter. That's when the Gamecocks turned up their smothering defense, holding UCLA to just three field goals in the final 10 minutes.
Zia Cooke's tiebreaking bucket with 5:37 left in the game South Carolina up for good at 54-52. The Gamecocks led by as many as 10 points in the final minutes.
Charisma Osborne led UCLA with 24 points while freshman Kiki Rice scored 16.
Early on UCLA and Rice upped the pace and took things right into the heart of South Carolina's smothering defense to build a 10-point lead late in the second quarter.
South Carolina missed 11 straight shots during one stretch, including a sequence where it had four consecutive chances from close in.
The Gamecocks showed some life in the final minutes as Boston had two blocks and a basket to cut things to 31-27 at the break. UCLA missed its last seven shots of the quarter.
THE BIG PICTURE
UCLA: The Bruins had little to prove after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis — including a win over then-ranked Tennessee — and playing the top-ranked Gamecocks tight for 35 minutes. Rice is a polished gem and UCLA has plenty of scoring punch to factor into the Pac 12 race this season.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks once more showed how hard they are to put away. No. 2 Stanford found that out on Nov. 20 when Boston tied things at the end and South Carolina pulled away in overtime for a 76-71 victory.
UCLA plays at UC-Santa Barbara on Saturday night.
South Carolina continues its homestand against Memphis on Saturday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25