Red-Hot Gamecocks Roll Past Mississippi State, Win Fifth Straight
Feb. 23, 2006
COLUMBIA, S.C. - In its final home game of the regular season, the South Carolina women's basketball team romped to a 75-47 win over Mississippi State Thursday night at the Colonial Center. The Gamecocks (17-9, 7-6 SEC) have won five straight games and seven of their last eight heading into Sunday's regular season finale at Vanderbilt. Mississippi State fell to 6-20 overall and 1-12 in Southeastern Conference play.
Carolina put on a stellar shooting performance. The Gamecocks created quality looks at the basket and hit 56 percent (28-of-50) from the field. USC converted 17-of-23 free throws, and owned the glass, out-rebounding the Lady Bulldogs, 42-26.
South Carolina blew the game wide open in the middle of the second half on the strength of a 17-3 run that extended the Gamecocks' lead from 45-32 to 62-35.
A foursome of Gamecock players reached doubles figures in scoring. Melanie Johnson poured in a game-high 16 points and added five rebounds, three steals and a block. Lakesha Tolliver continued her recent scoring surge with 11 points, the third straight game she has reached double-digits in scoring. Tolliver also dished out a career-high four assists and matched a career-best with three steals. Freshman Demetress Adams knocked down 10 points and grabbed four boards. Iva Sliskovic was impressive as well, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting and a game-high seven rebounds.
The Gamecocks were able to overcome 28 turnovers through their offensive effort and by shutting down MSU. The Lady Bulldogs were limited to just 29.6 percent shooting.
Behind Johnson's scoring prowess, the Gamecocks jumped to an 10-4 lead. Johnson scored Carolina's first six points and finished the opening half with nine.
South Carolina pushed its lead to eight, 25-17, after a pair of jumpers from Stacy Booker and a three-point play by Johnson at the 7:59 mark, but failed to score for the next five minutes. The drought did not hurt the Gamecocks, as they held the Lady Bulldogs scoreless for the final 7:14 of the first half.
USC made a living at the free throw line during the closing minutes of the first half, hitting 6-of-7 charity tosses in the final 2:30 to build a 15-point lead, 35-20, at intermission.
The Gamecocks shot better than 52 percent from the field in the first half and hit 11-of-13 free throws, while Mississippi State shot just 29.6 percent from the field and made of 1-of-2 free throws.
Carolina's lone senior Olga Gritsaeva was honored prior to the start of the game.
With tonight's win, USC is assured a .500 record in SEC play. The Gamecocks close out the 2006 regular season on the road with a 3 p.m. ET game at Vanderbilt. USC will then travel to North Little Rock, Ark., to take part in the SEC Tournament, March 2-5.