Gamecocks Battle Past No. 4 Lander 79-57 Friday
Nov. 5, 2010
COLUMBIA, S. C. - South Carolina used a 20-2 run over the final five minutes to shake a pesky Lander squad and pick up a 79-57 win in exhibition women's basketball action Friday night at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks turned up the defensive pressure to spark the rally, forcing the Lady Bearcats, who are the No. 4 NCAA Division II team in the nation, into a series of turnovers and rushed shots. Led by sophomore Ashley Bruner's 13, South Carolina out-rebounded Lander 56-25, and junior La'Keisha Sutton led four players in double figures with 15 points.
The teams traded small leads throughout the first half with the Lady Bearcats striking first. Lander used consecutive Gamecock turnovers to put together a 7-0 run midway through the period to take a 15-11 lead. South Carolina answered with a 9-0 surge highlighted by Markeshia Grant's 3-pointer from the right sideline. Another similar run by both teams left the Gamecocks with a 39-30 margin at the break.
The second half was nip-and-tuck for South Carolina as the Lady Bearcats refused to go away. An early 11-point lead at 50-39 all but evaporated over the next two minutes as Mukia Myrick drained a 3-pointer, Tasheba Butler turned a Jasmine Judge steal into a driving layup and Nardia Robbins nailed a 3-pointer to bring Lander with three at 50-47 with 10:29 left to play.
The Gamecocks held the lead over the next two minutes but could not stretch it beyond a handful of points until the tide turned at the 5:19 mark. After Judge's 3-pointer brought the Lady Bearcats within four at 59-55, South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley had her team apply full-court pressure, a tactic that Lander had employed throughout the game to induce 28 Gamecock turnovers. The Lady Bearcats turned the ball on their next two possessions, which Ieasia Walker turned into a layup and a 3-pointer in a span of 30 seconds. The resulting 11-point lead, 66-55, continued to grow as the Gamecock defense held Lander scoreless over the game's final four minutes.
Sutton's 15 points led all scorers, while Ebony Wilson, Grant and Charenee Stephens each added 10 points to the balanced Gamecock offense. Wilson added five offensive rebounds among her total of seven, and Bruner narrowly missed a double-double, scoring nine points to go with her game-high 13 rebounds.
Lander's Ciara Lyons led the offense with 12 points, also tying Tasheba Butler for team-high honors with five rebounds. Myrick added 11 points, including three 3-pointers. The Lady Bearcats picked up 22 steals and scored 29 of their 57 points off Gamecock turnovers.
South Carolina officially opens its season on Fri., Nov. 12, against No. 5/6 Xavier. Tipoff at Colonial Life Arena is set for 6:30 p.m.