March 10, 2017
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — South Carolina (22-10, 12-6 SEC) fell to Alabama (19-13, 10-8 SEC) 64-53 in an SEC Tournament Quarterfinal matchup on Friday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena. Senior Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks with 16 points in 37 minutes.
It was a defensive showcase in the first 20 minutes as both teams came into the game ranked 1-2 in the SEC in a handful of defensive categories. The Gamecock defense held Alabama to 36 percent shooting in the opening half (10-for-28) and 20 percent (2-for-10) from 3-point land. Thornwell and freshman Rakym Felder led the team with six points each. Alabama's Braxton Key led all scorers with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first half.
The Crimson Tide scored the game's first bucket, but Carolina's defense locked in and held it scoreless for the next 2:49, as Alabama led 2-0 at the first media timeout of the game with 15:36 on the clock. The Tide remained in front 9-6 at the under 12 media timeout with 10:54 to go.
Evan Hinson provided a huge lift off the Carolina bench to spark an 8-2 run for the Gamecocks' offense. He scored four points and pulled down two rebounds as South Carolina grabbed its first lead of the game 14-13 with 6:50 remaining in the first half.
Alabama regained the lead 21-19 at the final media timeout of the half with 2:56 on the clock. Felder knocked down 1-of-2 at the free throw line with eight seconds to go as the Gamecocks trailed 23-22 at halftime. Carolina's bench scored 11 of the team's first 19 points with Hinson and Felder combining for nine.
The Crimson Tide opened the second half 4-for-7 (57 percent) to take a four-point lead, 31-27, at the first media timeout with 15:57 to play. The Gamecocks then forced five turnovers leading to eight combined points from sophomore PJ Dozier and Felder to go on top 37-36.
Alabama's hot shooting, 7-of-10 to start second half, continued though and it went back in front by three, 40-37, forcing head coach Frank Martin to take a timeout with 11:56 on the clock. Felder and Dozier combined for 12 of the team's first 15 points in the second half.
Both teams exchanged hoops the next several minutes, but the Tide remained in front by four, 52-48, at the final media timeout of the game with 3:57 to play. Felder found Dozier out of the timeout for a huge 3 in front of the Gamecock bench to pull Carolina within one, 52-51, with 3:44 remaining.
The Gamecocks got within one again at 54-53 after a pair of free throws by sophomore Chris Silva with 2:54 left to play. Silva's free throws would be the team's final points of the game.
The Gamecocks struggled at the free throw line, going 13-for-23 (57 percent). The Crimson Tide shot 12-for-21 (57 percent) from the field in the second half and finished plus-15 in rebound margin with a 42-27 advantage on the glass.
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