The Lady Vols (16-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) lost 79-76 in overtime at Texas A&M on Thursday night. But with the 6-foot-5 Wilson sidelined with a right ankle sprain for the Gamecocks (14-3, 3-2) on Sunday, Tennessee took advantage of the middle, with Nared and Mercedes Russell helping build an 18-point lead late in the third quarter.
South Carolina rallied to cut the lead to 70-66 on Alexis Jennings’ three-point play with 5:45 left. But Nared hit an inside bucket, Evina Westbrook made a jumper and Nared finished a three-point play to restore Tennessee’s large lead.
It was South Carolina’s largest loss at home since a 73-53 defeat by Tennessee in Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick’s first SEC game on Jan. 3, 2013.
Russell and Westbrook had 16 points each. Russell added a game-high 12 rebounds.
Sophomore Tyasha Harris had a career-best 28 points for the Gamecocks.
Wilson injured her ankle in the final minute of South Carolina’s win over Auburn on Thursday night. She spent the past few days receiving treatment in the hopes of playing but came out to the court during pregame with a pink cast and a scooter to keep her right leg elevated. There is no timetable for Wilson’s return.
Tennessee: The Lady Vols have the look of an SEC contender. Russell gives them a finisher down low and Nared can play outside or near the basket, while Davis Westbrook and Hayes push the pace and defend hard on the perimeter. That’s what happened against the Gamecocks, who were caught at times searching how to play without Wilson.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks are a different team without Wilson. That was on display last week when Missouri forced her into fouling out, and was it proven again when she could not play against Tennessee because of her ankle sprain. South Carolina must discover other options, even once Wilson returns, if it hopes to win a fifth straight SEC regular-season title.
Bill Laimbeer, a staple of the Detroit Piston’s “Bad Boys” championship teams and an executive and head coach of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, was at the Colonial Life Arena, possibly to watch Wilson, a potential No. 1 overall pick, along with other Lady Vols players.
Tennessee plays its third straight ranked opponent when it visits No. 2 Notre Dame on Thursday night.
South Carolina starts a two-game road swing at Vanderbilt on Thursday night.