Friday, December 5, 2014
Staley Wins 300th Career Game as Gamecocks Defeat 49ers
As per usual, the Gamecocks wanted to use their height advantage and looked to score inside right from the tip-off. Center Ibiam Elem was fouled in the act of shooting and hit her two free throws for the first two points of the game. The 49ers responded with an unusual game plan, go inside on the taller Gamecocks front line, Charlotte forward Olivia Rankin, a player who only averages four points per game, matched her season average quickly with two straight baskets off post plays and the 49ers took a 4-2 lead.
Charlotte answered back, outscoring South Carolina 8-2 over the next two minutes. The 49ers leading scorer on the season, Lefty Webster would score six of the eight 49ers points in that spurt. Her jumper gave Charlotte a 19-18 lead.
For twelve and a half minutes, the Gamecocks were in a battle with the 49ers. But as shown throughout the season, South Carolina was capable of huge runs at any time. The time finally came with 7:38 left in the half.
But just as it looked like the Gamecocks would enter the locker room up twenty at the half, Cuevas inexplicably fouled Charlotte's Ayanna Holmes. Holmes would hit two free throws and we went to the half with South Carolina up 46-28.
The 49ers would hit on all of their first six field goal attempts in the second half. Webster, who was a thorn in the Gamecocks' side the entire game, nailed another jumper to cut the Gamecocks lead to thirteen, 55-42 with fifteen minutes left in the half. A team that had lost five straight games and had lost their most recent game in a tournament in Mexico to Princeton by thirty points, was fighting tooth and nail with the #1 team in the country for twenty five minutes.
The Gamecocks again showed the balanced scoring that is going to make them very difficult to beat this season. Six players scored between nine and seventeen points for the Gamecocks. The freshman Wilson led the way with seventeen points off the bench and Coates came off the bench as well to score fifteen points, The Gamecocks had a 41-8 advantage on bench points. Ibiam scored sixteen points and Welch had ten points, as South Carolina outscored Charlotte 46-20 in the paint. Mitchell and Tina Roy each had nine points for the Gamecocks, who shot fifty five percent from the field.
South Carolina now faces their most difficult road game of the season, a matchup with #8 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium on the campus of Duke. Having been there two years ago for an Iona -Duke women's basketball game, I can tell you that place will be really loud on Sunday. But if the Gamecocks show the balance they did last night and get good three point shooting from Mitchell and Roy, South Carolina will get Staley her 301st victory.