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WBB: Huskies cruise again

SOUTH CAROLINA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Connecticut dominated the third quarter to pull away and stay undefeated against South Carolina.

The game started perfectly for South Carolina. Dawn Staley wanted to push the tempo and force Connecticut to adjust to her guard-oriented lineup, and early on it worked. South Carolina made 10 of its first 11 shots, almost all early in the shot clock, and led 22-12 midway through the first quarter.

Things started to turn when Te’a Cooper picked up her second foul. She already had six points and three assists and was able to push the ball, but had to sit after just seven minutes. Connecticut battled back to trail just 27-23 at the end of the first quarter. Staley went to the second unit to start the second quarter, and the reserves couldn’t match up with Connecticut, which stayed with its starters.

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Chris Gillespie

Connecticut slowed the pace and made it a half-court game that took away South Carolina’s advantage.The teams went back-and-forth, but Connecticut led 44-43 at halftime, and South Carolina fantastic start was all for naught. It was an emotional turning point.

The third quarter was all Huskies, as they started on a 14-5 run and outscored the Gamecocks 29-12. The Gamecocks unraveled while the Huskies got the crowd behind them. The Gamecocks pressed, trying to make up the deficit in one play instead of playing the team basketball that worked in the first half.

Once again though, like the previous games, South Carolina didn’t lose on the offensive end. It lost because it couldn’t slow down, let alone stop Connecticut. The Huskies shot 57 percent for the game, and a whopping 63 percent in the second half.

Napheesa Collier had a season-high 31 points on 15-23 shooting, and 16 rebounds. Katie Lou Samuelson had 29 points and seven rebounds. They also got help from others, which wasn’t the case in Connecticut’s two losses. Christyn Williams added 19 and Crystal Dangerfield had ten.

South Carolina shot 46 percent for the game, but a 4-14 third quarter doomed them. Bianca Cuevas-Moore tied her career-high with 25 points She also had four assists and did everything she could to keep the Gamecocks in the game. Cooper finished with 20 points and four assists in just 21 minutes, but ultimately fouled out. Unlike the Huskies, the Gamecocks didn’t give their top two players enough help. Tyasha Harris and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan each scored 11, but neither scored in the second half.

Notes:

At halftime, the NCAA released its current top 16 seeds for the NCAA Tournament. South Carolina was a four seed in the Greensboro region. The top three seeds were Baylor, Notre Dame, and Maryland. ESPN’s Charlie Creme projects South Carolina as a three seed in the Chicago region, but having to play at 6 seed Michigan State in the first two rounds. … Connecticut did not substitute in the first half. … South Carolina is now 0-8 against Connecticut. ... Earlier Monday, Tyasha Harris was one of ten players named to the Nancy Lieberman Award watch list. The award is given the the nation’s top point guard. … Cooper briefly left the game with pain in her left knee, the one she previously injured. She later returned with no ill effects. Alexis Jennings had just six points and four rebounds, and struggled to find a role in the game. She was too slow to be a factor when South Carolina ran, and unable to get position in the half court. … Connecticut had a 39-27 rebounding edge, and Jennings was actually the leading rebounder for South Carolina. … South Carolina’s next game is Thursday against Georgia.

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