Gamecocks top Ole Miss on night of celebration at Colonial Life Arena

COLUMBIA, S.C.– No. 12/13 South Carolina women’s basketball led wire-to-wire to take down Ole Miss 76-42 at Colonial Life Arena on Thursday night. The Gamecocks (17-5, 9-1 SEC) got over 40 points from the bench for the second-straight game, led by redshirt-senior Nelly Perrywho scored a team-high 13 points, her most in a Carolina uniform.

Perry scored her 13 points on 5-of-8 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from the 3-point line. Freshmen Victaria Saxton and Destanni Henderson each added 12 points, the second-straight game that both have scored in double figures. Saxton also contributed two blocks and two steals, while Henderson collected five rebounds and dished out five assists. Alexis Jennings poured in 12 of her own while grabbing six rebounds in 22 minutes.Te’a Cooper was the final Gamecock in double figures with 11, including five coming from the charity stripe.

Cooper got Carolina started early in the contest with a pair of buckets, but it was a balanced attack throughout the opening quarter with five different scorers. Perry and Saxton both stepped off the bench to make big contributions, including a three from Perry to give the Gamecocks their largest lead at 15-9 with 45 seconds to go in the quarter. Mikiah Herbert Harrigan then dropped in a layup with just three seconds left to give Carolina a 17-11 lead after the first.

In the second, Tyasha Harris gave Carolina a 22-15 edge early in the quarter with a triple. After a back and forth early portion of the quarter, Carolina broke open a double-digit lead with an 8-0 run, starting with Saxton getting to the free throw line and highlighted by Henderson’s second 3-pointer of the quarter to give the Gamecocks a 35-23 lead with 2:10 to go in the half. The defense ramped up in the second as well as Saxton registered two big blocks, and Carolina entered the locker room with a 36-27 advantage.

The third quarter was all about defense for the Gamecocks, allowing just five points in the quarter on just one field goal. Carolina held Ole Miss scoreless for the final 5:42 of the period, forcing nine turnovers, including five in a row, to extend the lead to 42-30. The Garnet and Black then used the final 5:08 of the quarter to go on a 15-0 run, getting back-to-back blocks from Herbert Harrigan and back-to-back threes from Perry. The final three shots came from beyond the arc, giving the Gamecocks a 57-32 lead heading into the fourth.

Saxton’s offense came alive to begin the fourth quarter, scoring each of the Gamecocks’ first three shots to secure her second-straight game in double figures. Cooper scored five of her 11 points in the fourth, including three during a Carolina 9-0 run to bring the lead to its largest at 38 points with 3:16 to go. The Gamecocks were able to coast the rest of the way, and move to 9-1 in SEC play.

Before the game, members of the 2018 Gamecocks, which became the first team to win four-straight SEC Tournament championships, were honored with rings. CLA also unveiled the championship banner.

GAMECHANGER
Not only did Carolina hold Ole Miss scoreless in the final 5:42 in the third quarter, but additionally they did not allow a bucket in the first 2:22 of the fourth for a total of 8:04 stretch of scoreless basketball for the Rebels.

QUOTABLE DAWN STALEY
Staley on the freshmen…
“I think what is happening with our freshmen is that they’re growing up a little bit. They’re seeing the pace in which they need to practice and play. What they haven’t done is, they haven’t gotten too high with the highs and too low with the lows. They maintain. They’ve waited until their numbers were called, and they don’t know when, but every time that we call their number as of late, they’ve executed and they’ve given us a boost.”

KEY STAT 
Carolina’s defense came up big in the third quarter, forcing nine turnovers and 1-of-8 from the field for a total of five points.

NOTABLES

  • With the win, South Carolina has now won 11 in a row over Ole Miss dating back to 2010 with the average margin of victory at 17.8 points.
  • Harris registered an impressive stat line in the win handing out a season-high nine assists with zero turnovers in 23 minutes.
  • With a 36-18 advantage in the paint, the Gamecocks moved to 15-1 this season when winning the battle in the paint, including an unblemished 9-0 record in SEC play.
  • Perry’s 13 points marked her highest scoring output since joining the Gamecocks this season. Her five field goals also marked a high at Carolina.
  • Bench play has proved to be vital for Carolina’s success this season. With 43 points tonight, the Gamecocks move to 13-1 when their bench outscores the opponent’s bench.

UP NEXT
The Gamecocks (17-5, 9-1 SEC) will take a break from SEC play when they travel to take on #5/5 UConn on Mon., Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. Carolina returns to SEC action on Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. against Georgia at Colonial Life Arena.

Categories: Local Sports, Sports, USC Gamecocks