Gamecocks Roll in 65-39 Win Over Savannah State|
Dec. 21, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina women's basketball earned its 10th win of the season in a 65-39 victory over Savannah State on Wednesday at Colonial Life Arena. The win gives the Gamecocks a 10-2 start, their best since the 2002-03 campaign when South Carolina ran out to a 13-1 record. It also marks the first season that a Dawn Staley team has notched double-digit wins prior to the start of SEC competition.
The teams traded baskets early in the first half while both squads struggled to find a rhythm. South Carolina settled down after the first media timeout and went on a 17-5 run to take a 23-9 lead midway through the first half. Freshman forward Aleighsa Welch did a bulk of the damage during the surge, netting nine of her team-high 15 points in that span.
"[Aleighsa Welch] has been playing extremely well for us. I'm not surprised by what she's been able to do; she's a very intelligent basketball player, she plays hard," said Staley. "She understands conceptually what we're trying to do on both sides of the ball, and she's aggressive. She's way ahead of what you think a freshman would be able to come in and contribute."
Play was choppy late in the period, but the Gamecocks took a 33-17 advantage into the locker room. After giving up the opening basket of the second half to the Lady Tigers, the Gamecocks went on a 24-6 run to open up a 57-26 lead with just over eight minutes to go in the game. After the run, South Carolina was able to cruise to the final horn.
The Gamecocks made a huge impact on the boards throughout the contest, claiming a 38-19 advantage on the glass. Seventeen of the Gamecocks' rebounds came on the offensive end of the court, leading to 16 second-chance points. The Gamecocks were also able to limit the Lady Tigers' second chances as well, allowing only one offensive rebound in the first half and four for the game.
Junior guard Ieasia Walker added 11 points, and junior guard Sancheon White finished the game with 10 points, tying her highest point total in a Gamecock uniform. Senior forward Charenee Stephens was the leader on the glass, pulling down seven boards to go with her eight points in just 15 minutes of action. Welch added five rebounds as well. Junior forward Ashley Bruner led the Gamecocks in assists, dishing out a career-high four.
Sophomore forward Jasmine Kirkland netted 13 points and sophomore guards Ezinne Kalu tallied 10 points for the Lady Tigers. Blessing Uba, a sophomore guard, led Savannah State with four rebounds.
The Gamecocks are back in action on Wed., Dec. 28, when they travel to Philadelphia, Pa., to take on Drexel at 5 p.m. The contest with the Dragons closes out the South Carolina non-conference schedule. The Gamecocks return to Colonial Life Arena on Sun., Jan. 1, to begin SEC play against Alabama with a 3 p.m. tipoff.