WBB: South Carolina holds off Furman
SOUTH CAROLINA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
South Carolina looked every bit of a team coming off a long break, sleep-walking through a 64-53 win over Furman.
The Gamecocks were playing their first game in nine days, and just their second in the last two weeks, and the rust was evident throughout. They gave up 22 points off turnovers, missed countless layups, were outrebounded 37-33, and generally outhustled.
“I think they wanted it more. They were more aggressive going after rebounds. They knew what they were going up against,” Dawn Staley said. “They put themselves in position to win the basketball game doing those things (intangibles). They ran their stuff and we had breakdowns. I don’t think it was anything new. Everything we prepared for, they did. At times we weren’t very efficient executing.”
South Carolina held Furman scoreless for nearly five minutes as part of a 9-2 run to end the second quarter. That gave South Carolina a 31-27 halftime lead, and they soon stretched it to 12 in the third quarter. But just as quickly, Furman took advantage of four third quarter turnovers and poor effort to cut the lead down to six.
The same thing played out in the fourth quarter. South Carolina went up 11 and seemed to have the game in hand. Then a three by Jade Kirisome and consecutive layups off turnovers cut the lead to four.
South Carolina relied on its defense and Alexis Jennings to close out the game. Jennings made a free throw, and South Carolina forced back-to-back turnovers. Each time, the ball went to Jennings in the post and she scored, stretching the lead back to nine. Jennings finished with 19 points, tying her season-high.
“I feel like I’m getting back into my groove and who I am as a player,” Jennings said. “Points in the paint was a main emphasis. We worked on it three days in a row, and I’m thankful my teammates were able to get me the ball.”
As much as South Carolina struggled with turnovers, committing 18, it was able to force them when it needed to. Six of Furman’s 21 turnovers came in the fourth quarter, and South Carolina got 21 points off turnovers, including the two critical baskets by Jennings.
Destanni Henderson scored the final five points of the game, and the final margin represented the Gamecocks’ largest lead of the game. For Henderson, it capped off one of the best games of her freshman season. She scored 10 points, the first time she hit double figures since scoring 13 in the season-opener. During that span, she went scoreless three times and averaged just 2.7 points per game, even after being inserted into the starting lineup against Purdue. She also tied her career-highs with three assists, three rebounds, and 22 minutes played.
Tyasha Harris said a lack of communication was the reason for the Gamecocks’ struggles. Staley said it was trying to do too much, and that better communication would solve that.
“Simplifying is communicating,” Staley said. “If you communicate what you see, you help other people out. I thought we lacked communication. We lacked calling out screens, we lacked people being in position to make and easy play, we lacked calling out to the person with the ball. When you have that - it’s still a young, inexperienced team that is growing.”
South Carolina shot just 42 percent through the first three quarters before making 6-8 shots in the fourth quarter. South Carolina was just 4-15 from three, but held Furman to 2-12 from three and 36 percent overall. Jennings and Henderson were the only Gamecocks to score in double figures.
Le’Jzae Davidson led Furman with 19 points, but had just four in the second half. Kaitlyn Duncan added 11.
Tyasha Harris struggled, scoring five points on 1-6 shooting and dishing out four assists. … South Carolina had 13 assists on 25 made baskets. … Bianca Cuevas-Moore came off the bench with four points, three rebounds, two steals, and a block. … The Gamecocks had 11 blocks, led by Mikiah Herbert Harrigan and Victaria Saxton with three each. … Attendance was 11,206. … South Carolina begins SEC play Thursday at Texas A&M.