WBB: Gamecocks take down Aggies
SOUTH CAROLINA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
#23 South Carolina came back from nine down at halftime for a big road win over #21 Texas A&M in College Station.
South Carolina dug itself an early hole with an offensively challenged first quarter. South Carolina shot just 4-of-19 and committed six turnovers, allowing Texas A&M to claim a 15-8 lead after the first frame.
After that slow start, the Gamecocks imposed their will defensively. The Aggies shot just 33 percent in the second quarter, but were able to expand their lead at the free throw line. The Aggies shot 14-of-16 from the charity stripe in the first half, while the Gamecocks went to the line just four times.
The game turned in the third quarter behind Te’a Cooper and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan. Herbert Harrigan blocked four shots in the third quarter, and Texas A&M missed its first six shots and went scoreless for the first 4:32. Behind Cooper, who scored 12 points in the frame, South Carolina started the half on a 10-0 run, capped by a three from Cooper - South Carolina’s first of the game - that gave USC a 38-37 lead.
The Gamecocks carried that one-point lead into the fourth quarter, but the Aggies struck first. N’Dea Jones made a pair of layups and then Ciera Johnson added a free throw to give the Aggies a four-point lead. But the Aggies, whose five starters got a combined total of just 10 minutes of rest, succumbed to exhaustion.
Baskets by Cooper and Herbert Harrigan tied the game at 53. Then the tired Texas A&M defense left freshman Destanni Henderson open for a three. Cooper found her, and Henderson made the go-ahead shot, one of only two threes South Carolina made.
Kayla Wells made a transition layup to cut the lead to one, but it was the last field goal Texas A&M would make. South Carolina held A&M without a basket for the final 4:41. Tyasha Harris made a layup with 1:36 left. Chennedy Carter made a free throw to chip away at the lead. Harris missed an open three, but Herbert Harrigan grabbed the rebound. South Carolina ran out the shot clock but was unable to get off a good look.
After a timeout, Carter drove, drawing the fifth foul on Herbert Harrigan and went to the line with a chance to tie the game. She made the first free throw, but missed the second. Cooper made a pair of free throws and then Carter missed a wild shot at the buzzer for the final margin.
Cooper finished with a game-high 24 points and tied her career-highs with seven rebounds and six points. She was the primary defender on Carter and drew a critical charge in the fourth quarter. Gamecock head coach Dawn Staley challenged Cooper to be a leader, and Cooper responded.
Herbert Harrigan finished with her second career double-double, regrouping after a rough start. Herbert Harrigan had three turnovers and a foul in the first four minutes of the game, and Staley subbed her out to refocus. She responded with 11 points and career-highs of 16 rebounds and six blocks. Herbert Harrigan was the backstop for South Carolina’s stellar defense.
Texas A&M shot just 26.2 percent (17-65) from the floor for the game, and 19.4 percent in the second half, while going 2-of-11 from three. Texas A&M came into the game outrebounding opponents by 10 rebounds a game, but South Carolina grabbed the edge, 49-45. Carter, who leads the SEC in scoring at 21 points per game, scored 19, but South Carolina got the best of her. Carter shot just 3-of-19 and was 0-of-8 in the second half. She only scored three points in the second half, and even that came on 3-of-6 shooting from the free throw line.
Johnson finished with 17 rebounds, but only five in the second half. … Herbert Harrigan’s previous career-high in blocks was four, which she accomplished five times, and matched in the third quarter alone. … Alexis Jennings was relatively quiet, with six points and eight rebounds, but South Carolina dominated the paint, outscoring Texas A&M 38-20. … Four of the last five games between the two teams have been decided by single digits. … South Carolina’s next game is Sunday against Alabama in a noon contest at Colonial Life Arena.