Staley & Co. Off To 3-0 Start For 2nd Straight Year

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By Sports Department

COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) -- South Carolina women’s basketball scored a 78-47 victory over Savannah State Thursday night at Colonial Life Arena. Sophomore Aleighsa Welch led the team in points and rebounds scoring her first career double-double with 13 points and 12 boards. The Gamecock defense held the Lady Tigers to 36% from the field.

“That was a pretty good stretch [of defense to start the game],” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said. “Our team was really buying into what the game plan was. For us, the magic trick is to do it for 40 minutes, and we’re not there yet. We had a lot of lapses…[but] at the end of the game, I thought we did a better job from a defensive standpoint.”

The Gamecocks opened play with a 16-1 run in the first half. South Carolina got out in front of the Lady Tigers and built a steady lead. Scoring was a team effort in the first half with Welch, Asia Dozier, Ieasia Walker and Sancheon White combining for 27 of the team’s 40 points.

Walker began scoring for South Carolina draining a 3-pointer from the right wing. On the other end, Ashley Bruner snagged a defensive rebound that allowed Welch an opportunity for an easy layup. She also scored the Gamecocks’ next two on a jumper from the right side. Welch’s points were followed by back-to-back Savannah State turnovers that yielded layups from Tiffany Mitchell and White, giving the Gamecocks an 11-1 lead. Welch got to the free throw line for the Gamecocks, drained both and was followed to the line by Mitchell, who made one of her free throws to give South Carolina a 14-1 advantage. Khadijah Sessions capped the run with a long jumper from the top of the arc for a 16-1 seven minutes into the game.

On the other side of the ball, physical defense by South Carolina prevented Savannah State scoring from the field until there was 11:29 left in the half. Bruner helped lead the team on defense, snagging seven rebounds, six of them defensive, as the Gamecocks limited the Lady Tigers to one shot on nearly every trip down the floor.

The Gamecock lead stretched to 30-7 on a 14-6 run, which White kicked off with five straight points. Savannah State continued to struggle from the field, coming up empty on six straight possessions as South Carolina pulled away and never looked back.

Four Gamecocks finished the night in double figures behind Welch’s 13 points. Dozier turned in 11 while Mitchell and Walker added 10 each. Bruner matched Welch’s effort on the glass with 12 rebounds.

South Carolina is back in action at home on Sun., Nov. 18, at 3 p.m. against arch-rival Clemson. All general admission tickets for the game are $1 to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Colonial Life Arena, which opened with a women’s basketball game against Clemson on Nov. 22, 2002.

Note: Sophomore Tiffany Davis left late in the game with a right knee sprain. She will be further evaluated in the upcoming days.

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