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March 8, 2013
VIDEO: Aleighsa Welch
DULUTH, Ga. - South Carolina turned to a previously mostly-anonymous part of its inside game to beat Alabama when Elem Ibiam scored 19 points. The thought was that if Ibiam could just do any of that against Texas A&M on Friday, the No. 17 Gamecocks stood a great chance of advancing in the SEC tournament.
Ibiam finished with two points. USC lost 61-52.
"I don't think we got Elem the ball as much as we got her the ball (on Thursday)," coach Dawn Staley said. "But they are big."
Staley explained that Ibiam was keeping one of Texas A&M's post players away from the basket on defense, and also drawing Aggie defensive attention when the Gamecocks had the ball. USC tried to get its usual inside game from Ashley Bruner and Aleighsa Welch, but the Aggies were just too physical to let them take over.
As usual, it came down to USC missing shots. The Gamecocks 20-of-57 from the field and 10-of-20 from the line.
"It just came down to us making layups," Staley said. "We can count how many layups we missed, then we missed 10 free throws."
ALL-TOURNAMENT?: Bruner recorded her second double-double of the SEC tournament with 19 points and 11 rebounds. It was her seventh of the season.
GETTING THERE SORT OF: USC's 1-1 stay in Duluth made the Gamecocks 7-22 all-time in the SEC tournament, with two of those wins coming last year.
WAITING ON THE SILVER: Dawn Staley will have to wait to see if her other USC streak will be extended. The Gamecocks' fifth-year coach has increased her SEC and overall win totals every year that she's been in Columbia, and already passed the first part with her 11th conference win a week ago.
USC has to top last year's 25 wins to hit the other. The Gamecocks have 24. If they reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, they will accomplish it.
THE SWITCH: Ieasia Walker changed her number from 3 to 2 early into the season to honor sophomore Shelbretta Ball, a scholarship player for USC who was unable to play a game due to a heart condition. The Gamecocks dutifully honored the request by changing Walker's jersey numbers - except they missed one.
USC normally wears white at home and black on the road. Sometimes, the Gamecocks go with garnet uniforms on the road. Walker's garnet uniform never got changed, so she was wearing 3 at a recent road game.
When the Gamecocks trotted out for their SEC quarterfinal matchup in the garnets, Walker was still wearing No. 3.
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