Monday, Jan. 28, 2019
COLUMBIA, S.C. - No. 16/20 South Carolina women's basketball secured its seventh-straight win at home with an 80-69 win at Colonial Life Arena Monday night. The Gamecocks (14-5, 6-1 SEC) got 71 points from their starters and poured it on in the second half to record the double-digit victory.
Junior guard Te'a Cooper led the Gamecocks with 18 points on the night and added three steals in 34 minutes of action. Mikiah Herbert Harrigan extended her double-figure scoring streak to seven with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting while snatching three steals and swatting three shots. Senior forward Alexis Jennings had her one of her most efficient nights of the season, shooting 7-of-8 to finish with 15 points. Junior Tyasha Harris poured in 14 points of her own while collecting seven rebounds and dishing out six assists.
Carolina came out firing in the opening quarter. The Gamecocks shot a scorching 7-of-7 from the floor to begin the game, with highlight plays in abundance. Herbert Harrigan connected on an and-one while Jennings sank a pair of hooks and Cooper intercepted a pass and connected on the coast-to-coast bucket to build a 15-5 lead. Vanderbilt was able to respond, but not before Harris connected on a gorgeous transition pass to Bianca Cuevas-Moore that had the fans on their feet, and leading to a 26-22 lead at the end of the quarter.
In the second, Vanderbilt made a run. The Commodores used a 12-0 run to take a 34-28 lead with 4:13 remaining in the half. After a Carolina timeout, Harris sank a three to get the Gamecocks going again on offense, and a Destanni Henderson bucket with just seconds to go in the opening half cut the deficit to just two by halftime.
The Gamecocks took no time to reclaim the lead in the second half. A powerful post move from Jennings helped Carolina reclaim the lead for good in the third. The 8-2 run eventually turned into a 13-4 surge with points coming from all five starters. Carolina outscored the Commodores 23-10 in the quarter to claim a double-digit lead heading into the fourth.
The final period began with a spark from Victaria Saxton off the bench. She rejected the opening shot from Vanderbilt to begin the quarter and scored a few possessions later to lift the Gamecocks' lead back to double digits where it remained for the rest of the game.
The Gamecocks scored a season-high 50 points in the paint, including 16 of the Gamecocks' 23 points in the third quarter.
QUOTABLE DAWN STALEY
Staley on Te'a Cooper's performance...
"I had told [Cooper] I wanted her to be more aggressive out there on the court. We all know the excellent ball-handling skills she has, and we wanted her to try to create more shots for herself and for her teammates. I thought she did a great job of finishing around the rim as well. All together I thought we played a great game offensively, and we were very disciplined defensively."
Carolina shot 66.7 percent (10-of-15) from the floor during the dominant third quarter that saw the Gamecocks outscore the Commodores 23-10 and claim a double-digit lead that they did not relinquish for the remainder of the game.
Herbert Harrigan continued her impressive streak of double-figure scoring games to seven, a streak that coincided with the start of SEC play at Texas A&M.
Carolina got 71 of its 80 points from its starters, the most points any starting lineup has scored for the Gamecocks this season.
The 23 fast break points Carolina put up in the victory is the most since it poured in 36 in the season opener at Alabama State (36).
The Gamecocks held an opponent under 70 points for the 13th time this season, moving their record to 13-0, and 5-0 in the SEC, when allowing 69 or fewer points.
Harris continued her impressive ball distribution with six assists. In the past five games (154 minutes), she has dished out 28 assists while turning the ball over just three times.
The Gamecocks (14-5, 6-1 SEC) shift their focus to the road when they travel to Lexington, Ky., to take on the #19/12 Kentucky Wildcats on Jan. 31 at 6:30 p.m. on the SEC Network. Carolina remains on the road to take on Arkansas on Feb. 3 at 5 p.m. on the SEC Network.