basketball Edit

WBB: Fourth quarter surge propels Gamecocks

SOUTH CAROLINA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

After trailing for three quarters, South Carolina exploded in the fourth to beat Arkansas 87-79.

South Carolina missed its first ten shots of the game and quickly trailed 9-0. The deficit was as much as 12 in the first quarter as Arkansas was faster and sharper, forcing South Carolina to play faster than it wanted. But a pair of freshmen got South Carolina helped erase the deficit and then a pair of veterans finished things off.

Arkansas led by four after the first quarter, and that’s where things stood going into the fourth with Arkansas ahead 56-52. Dawn Staley had been leaning heavily on her starters over the past few weeks, but it was clear they weren’t getting it done Sunday night. So she turned to freshmen Victaria Saxton and Destanni Henderson, who had provided a spark in the first half. The gambit paid off.

Henderson opened the quarter with a layup, and then after giving up a basket, she hit a three from the corner to pull within one-point. Saxton blocked a shot on the other end, and the Gamecocks got the ball ahead to Tyasha Harris for the breakaway layup and the Gamecocks’ first lead of the game, with 7:56 left to play. From there, Harris took over, scoring eight points during a 12-2 run that put the Gamecocks in control. Saxton had the other four points during the run as she was a force on both ends of the court.

The closest Arkansas got the rest of the way was three points. South Carolina responded by going inside to Alexis Jennings, who scored near the rim to retake control. Jennings struggled to deal with the fast pace of the game, which first led to Saxton getting into the game. But Jennings was a force when she got her opportunities, notching a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds in just 23 minutes.

Harris had 15 points, five assists, and four rebounds, but her impact was more than numbers. She had the timely points to take the lead, but she also controlled the tempo in the fourth quarter. For three quarters, Arkansas dictated tempo and South Carolina was goaded into rushed shots. Harris changed that, running when transition baskets were available, and finding good shots in the halfcourt.

The stars though, were the freshmen. Both Saxton and Henderson scored 19 points, a career-high. Saxton added nine rebounds and two blocks, and just as importantly, made all her free throws (5-5) when Arkansas had to foul to prolong the game. Henderson added four points and two assists and provided the spark to start the fourth quarter.

Notes:

Doniyah Cliney started in place of Mikiah Herbert Harrigan in an effort to match Arkansas’ speed. Cliney only had one point, but had nine rebounds and three assists. … Herbert Harrigan only had one point, one block, and three rebounds, ending her streak of eight straight double figure scoring games. … Bianca Cuevas-Moore had 14 points, but was just 4-21 shooting and 0-6 from three. … Te’a Cooper also struggled, going 3-13 for seven points. … Arkansas got most of its scoring from just two players. Chelsea Dungee had 32 and Malica Monk had 25. The rest of the team had 22. … South Carolina’s next game is Thursday against Ole Miss.