WBB: South Carolina gets back on track, routs App State
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
Now that’s more like it. South Carolina routed Appalachian State 80-50 Wednesday night at Colonial Life Arena - the sort of performance the Gamecocks have been used to in December.
After playing a brutally tough schedule through the first month of the season, South Carolina has been beat up physically and mentally. The team needed a confidence-boosting win, the type of game where they clicked on both ends of the court and got to see some benefit to those humbling losses.
“We felt we needed to bounce back,” guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore said. “Today was a good game for us so we could get back into the things we’re used to doing.”
The Gamecocks were in control from the start. They won the opening tip and on the first possession Doniyah Cliney fed Mikiah Herbert Harrigan for a layup. Then Te’a Cooper and Cliney each made a three-pointer, and in just 100 seconds the Gamecocks were already up eight.
The offensive onslaught continued throughout the game. South Carolina shot 71 percent from the floor in the second quarter and led by as many as 29. The hot shooting continued in the third quarter, where South Carolina stretched the lead to 38. South Carolina was shooting 65 percent from the floor when head coach Dawn Staley emptied the bench in the fourth. The shooting percentage dropped, but South Carolina still shot 54 percent.
“We were relaxed, we took what they gave us and moved the ball,” Staley said. “I really liked the ball movement. It’s more like what we practiced, those extra passes, those skip passes. Having more than one or two passes really breaks the defense down.”
South Carolina got a season-high 12 from Cuevas-Moore, on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from three. Cuevas-Moore needed just 12 minutes to make her impact. Alexis Jennings added 10, and Cooper, Cliney, and LeLe Grissett each had nine, and Grissett tied for the team-high with seven rebounds. Tyasha Harris had eight points, five rebounds, and a season-high seven assists.
South Carolina set its season high with 14 three-pointers made - 12 in the first half, including seven in the first quarter. USC shot a remarkable 12-of-18 from deep in the opening half. The key was patience. Despite taking 28 (making 14 after going 0-of-6 in the fourth quarter) attempts, the Gamecocks were getting good, open looks in the flow of the offense, not the hurried, one shot and done possessions that have plagued them in some of the losses.
One of the reasons the Gamecocks shot such a high percentage from three was quality ball movement. South Carolina has not passed the ball well this season, but against Appalachian State the ball didn’t stick. Everyone touched it, and the ball got to open shooters. South Carolina averaged just 12.5 assists per game this season, but surpassed that with 3:22 left in the second quarter. It had 17 assists on 20 baskets in the first half. The pace slowed in the second half and they finished with 20 assists, the second-highest total of the season.
“We worked on it in practice, just moving the ball around and finding the open person,” Cliney said.
Defensively, the Gamecocks held the Mountaineers to 29 percent shooting, 26 percent from three, and outrebounded them 47-27.
All 13 Gamecocks played and scored. LaDazhia Williams was the last Gamecock to score, making a pair of free throws with 4:17 left. Williams finished with four points and seven rebounds. … Lainey Gosnell and Madi Story each scored 11 for the Mountaineers. … Bayley Plummer, who came in averaging 11.3 rebounds per game and twice this season had 20 rebounds in a game, only had four boards, a season-low. … Herbert Harrigan had eight points and three blocks. … Announced attendance was 10,380. … South Carolina’s next game is Sunday at Duke.