Sutton Steers Gamecock Past Wake Forest 62-52
Dec. 17, 2009
COLUMBIA, S.C. - For South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley, defense makes the difference, and sophomore guard La'Keisha Sutton gave full effort on both ends of the floor to guide the Gamecocks to a 62-52 win over Wake Forest in women's basketball action at Colonial Life Arena Thursday night. While scoring a game-high 18 points, Sutton's defense limited the Demon Deacons' leading scorer, Brittany Waters, to just two points, setting the tone for the Gamecocks' best team defensive game of the season.
"In practice, we emphasized stopping the ball in transition and cutting down the two leading scorers (Sandra) Garcia and (Brittany) Waters," Sutton said. "I think we did a good job of executing the game plan ."
While the offensive effort was marred by turnovers, the defense forced the Demon Deacons into uncomfortable shots as Wake took 32 of its 62 shots from beyond the 3-point line, from which they hit just 21.9 percent. The 29.0 percent field goal shooting led to 19 offensive boards for the Demon Deacons, but the offense could not get on track with Garcia and Waters combining for just for points in the game.
While Sutton had Waters locked down, South Carolina freshman Kelsey Bone put the clamps on Garcia while grabbing 13 rebounds and adding 11 points of her own to the Gamecock victory. Offensively, points came from all sources for South Carolina as Jewel May and Ieasia Walker each added seven points, and Valerie Nainima fought for 13 points on a tough shooting night for the junior guard.
The game was one of spurts, and the Gamecocks used one to open each half and establish early leads. After seeing its 11-point lead midway through the first half fade to just three points with 2:50 left in the period, the offense re-ignited to carry a 33-25 edge into halftime.
The momentum did not stop with the break as the Gamecocks controlled the early part of the second half, scoring the period's first eight points and holding Wake scoreless over the first three minutes of the half. Turnovers, 24 in all, kept the Gamecocks from pulling away from the Demon Deacons, who hovered around a 10-point deficit for much of the half. Wake twice narrowed the gap to six behind offensive rebounding and free throws, but Nainima was solid at the free throw line down the stretch to hold off the rally.
South Carolina won the battle of the boards for the fourth-straight game, edging Wake 40-37 on the glass, and the Gamecocks poured in points with 44.7 percent accuracy from the floor. The Gamecocks out-scored the Demon Deacons 28-16 in the paint and solid transition defense allowed Wake just 13 points off the season-high 24 turnovers.
The Gamecocks close out their pre-Christmas schedule with a neutral site game against No. 9/10 North Carolina on Sun., Dec. 20, at 3 p.m. at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.