Stephens Powers Gamecocks Past Tigers
Nov. 17, 2011
CLEMSON, S.C. - South Carolina took advantage of ball movement on offense and aggressive defense to earn a 65-48 win over Clemson in women's basketball action at Littlejohn Coliseum Thursday night. The Gamecocks got 19 points from senior Charenee Stephens and a stat-filling five-point, six-assist, seven-steal night from senior co-captain La'Keisha Sutton. South Carolina shot 50.0 percent in the first half for a commanding 17-point halftime lead.
"I thought we played two solid halves from a defensive standpoint where we executed the game plan to a T," Staley said. "In the second half our offense got a little shaky, but our defense picked it up. It was important in this game that when we got a lead we held onto it. Everyone that came in contributed in a way that they can feel good about the win."
The Gamecocks stormed out of the gate, putting their arch rivals on their heels 10-2 five minutes into the game. Stephens was dominant early on the inside, and Markeshia Grant added balance from the perimeter driving in as the two accounted for all 10 early points. The Tigers scored the next four points off a pair of Gamecock turnovers, but South Carolina went right back inside, this time to Ashley Bruner.
Leading 13-10 with 11:22 in the half, South Carolina ramped up the defense and its relentless attack of the basket to net the next 10 points unanswered. Bruner kicked off the surge with a free throw, and Grant added a driving layup after an offensive rebound extended the next possession. Stephens put back a missed shot, and, after a Clemson turnover, Ebony Wilson flashed up the lane for a 20-10 Gamecock advantage with 8:52 on the clock. Another defensive stop set up a traditional three-point play for Bruner to cap the spurt.
Still leading by 11, 26-15, the Gamecocks put together another surge. This one was led by the guards with Ieasia Walker hitting a pair of free throws, La'Keisha Sutton adding a driving layup, and Tina Roy knocked down a jumper from the left elbow, stretching the advantage to 32-15. The teams traded baskets over the final 4:45, allowing the Gamecocks to take a 42-26 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The second half got off to a frenetic pace with neither team seizing control, but Walker finally got the Gamecocks on track with a drive up the lane to kick off a 6-0 run that also saw Stephens capitalize on a busted drive from Grant for a bucket and Walker hit a step-back jumper for a 50-30 advantage at the 13:14 mark. The Tigers appeared to be making a run with six unanswered points, but the Gamecocks went back to Stephens who answered with the Gamecocks' next eight points to open up a 58-38 lead 6:39 left to play.
While Stephens was the only Gamecock in double figures, the offense was balanced throughout the night. Roy finished with nine points, and four other Gamecocks added six apiece. The rebounding was equally a team effort. Courtney Newton, Stephens and Aleighsa Welch tied for team-high honors with five each.
South Carolina is back in action at home on Sun., Nov. 20, at 3 p.m. against #11/12 Penn State. Unlike most women's games, there will be a $5 charge for parking beginning at 1 p.m. due to the doubleheader with the men's team that day.