FREEPORT, Bahamas (AP) -- Katie Gearlds had 18 points, Cherelle George added nine points and 10 steals and Purdue (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) avoided going 0-for-the-islands with a 56-48 victory over South Carolina at the Junkanoo Jam on Saturday.
The Boilermakers (2-1) had lost to George Washington in the tournament's first game Friday and trailed the Gamecocks (2-2) midway through the second half.
But Purdue's defense, led by George's quick hands, turned things around.
Her steal and layup with 12:03 left gave the Boilermakers the lead for good, 36-35. Danielle Campbell added a basket and two free throws, Erin Lawless had a three-point play and Purdue was up 45-38.
The Gamecocks closed to 45-43 on Melanie Johnson's putback with five minutes to go. But Gearlds followed with a basket to regain control for Purdue, which took third place in the tournament's four-team Lucaya Division.
For South Carolina, it was a second straight bitter defeat at the holiday tournament. The Gamecocks led No. 18 Texas late before falling 59-55. This time, they were up as many as eight points and looked on the way to breaking a 17-game losing streak against ranked teams.
But South Carolina got off 15 field goal tries in the second half, hitting only six against Purdue's defense. The Gamecocks also committed 18 of their 28 turnovers after halftime.
Iva Sliskovic led South Carolina with 11 points.
About the only drama left at the end was whether George would reach the school's single-game steals mark of 12. She ended with Purdue's best steals performance since Joy Holmes set the record against Minnesota on Jan. 13, 1989.