Last Time Out
South Carolina got a game-high 15 points from freshman Lakeisha Sutton but could not overcome a cold-shooting first half in a 61-47 loss at Kentucky Thursday night. The Gamecocks managed just 15 points in the first half, rebounding in the second half to out-score the Wildcats by one.
Mississippi leads the series 15-11, although the Gamecocks have won three of the last five meetings, including a 76-67 win just 17 days ago. The win snapped a three-game skid to the Rebels in Oxford. Carolina is 7-2 against Ole Miss in Columbia, including wins in the last six matchups on the Gamecocks' homecourt. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley is 2-1 against the Rebels in her coaching career.
Senior Brionna Dickerson suffered a right knee injury against Vanderbilt on Jan. 25. She will be re-evaluated this week. Senior Demetress Adams is out for the season after successful right knee surgery on Feb. 4 to repair an injury she suffered at Ole Miss on Jan. 22.
A South Carolina Win Would ...
Be the Gamecocks' second SEC win of the season.
Be the Gamecocks' second straight over Ole Miss.
Be the Gamecocks' first home SEC win of the season and their first home win since a 58-50 win over Jacksonville on Dec. 30.
Season tickets are available at two prices. Fans who purchase four season tickets qualify for the Family 4-Pack pricing at $100. Fans who purchase fewer than four pay the full price of $50 per season ticket. Single-game tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for youth (18 and under). For more information or to order tickets, contact the South Carolina Ticket Office toll free at 800-4SC-FANS or locally at 803-777-4274. Fans can also order tickets via the athletics web site, GamecocksOnline.com.
South Carolina is one of 1,250 organizations around the country participating in the WBCA's 2009 Pink Zone initiative. A global, unified effort to help raise breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond, schools are participating in the initiative in various ways. For the Gamecocks, the campaign began on Jan. 15 when the first 150 Carolina fans at the Florida game received a Pink Zone piggy bank, courtesy of Firehouse Subs, in which to collect spare change to donate to the Kay Yow/WBCA Breast Cancer Fund today. The first 500 fans that brought their banks to Colonial Life Arena today received a South Carolina Pink Zone t-shirt.
The Gold Standard
While head coach Dawn Staley has become synonymous with Olympic gold, the entire South Carolina coaching staff boasts a wealth of experience and achievement. Including assistant coaches Lisa Boyer, Carla McGhee and Nikki McCray, the Gamecock women's basketball staff has combined for 39 years of coaching experience, 29 years of playing professionally in the United States, seven Olympic gold medals and two NCAA National Championships.
Sending Out an SOS
Through games of Feb. 5, South Carolina is ranked 13th in the nation in strength of schedule (SOS). In the SEC, only Tennessee (2) has played a tougher schedule than the Gamecocks so far this season. The other teams ahead of Carolina are Oklahoma (1), Rutgers, Maryland, Connecticut, Texas A&M, Texas, Florida State, Stanford, Illinois, Louisville and Marquette. Nine of the teams ahead of Carolina in strength of schedule are ranked in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN Coaches Polls.
Upping the Pace
Guard/forward C.J. Pace has raised her game since the injuries suffered by her fellow seniors. After not scoring in double digits since the start of SEC play, Pace has reached the plateau in two of the last three games, including a career-high 19 points against No. 17/18 Vanderbilt on Jan. 25. Eight of her 17 baskets in the last two games have come from behind the 3-point line as she has twice tied her career high with three 3-pointers in a game. Pace has picked up her rebounding rate as well, snagging a team-high nine against the Commodores and pulling in seven against LSU. In all, she is averaging 12.7 points and 7.3 rebounds over the last two games. She is currently 18th in the SEC with 5.8 rebounds per game this season.
The Tate Gallery
Freshman guard Miranda Tate is another young player who will need to step up as the Gamecocks fill the injury holes. The six-foot newcomer had played in just two SEC games for a combined 10 minutes before Brionna Dickerson left the Vanderbilt game with an injury. Tate wasted little time making the most of her opportunity as she tied for team-high rebounding honors with a career-high nine and netted seven points on 3-of-4 shooting against the Commodores in just 15 minutes on the court. In 21 minutes against LSU, she again netted seven points, including her first 3-pointer since the Dec. 5 game against High Point, and added two steals and a blocked shot to the Gamecock effort.
Wiping the Glass
Freshman forward Charenee Stephens, who made her debut in the starting lineup at Kentucky, has been the Gamecocks' leading rebounder in SEC play and ranks 13th in the league with 6.0 boards per conference game. She has reached double figures in two of the last five games - 11 boards at Tennessee and 12 at Ole Miss - and snagged a team-high nine against LSU. Her 12-rebound outing at Ole Miss is the 10th-best single-game output by a player in an SEC vs. SEC contest this season. She is one of just three freshmen and four total underclassmen (freshman or sophomore) to make the list. Arkansas' Ceira Ricketts and LSU's Ayana Dunning share the top spot among freshmen with 13 boards. Kentucky sophomore Victoria Dunlap has two entries on the list - 13 against Mississippi State and 12 at Alabama.
Freshman guard Lakeisha Sutton is the Gamecocks' third-leading scorer on the season and has stamped her name among the SEC's top freshmen. She made her league debut with 17 points against No. 9/8 Auburn then went to Georgia and netted 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Sutton was a perfect 3-of-3 from 3-point range at No. 13/15 Tennessee en route to nine points and handed out a career-high seven assists at Ole Miss. Since league play began eight games ago, she has scored in double figures five times and netted nine points in two other games.
So far in SEC play, Sutton averages 13.6 points to rank eighth in the league, tops among SEC freshmen. She is also among the SEC's top 15 in assists per game (3.4, 11th), free throw percentage (.757, 12th), steals per game (1.5, 10th) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.8, 14th) through the first eight conference games.
The Last Time ...
On Jan. 22 at Ole Miss, South Carolina reached a series of impressive benchmarks.
With 31 points, Brionna Dickerson became the first Gamecock to score 30 or more points in an SEC game since Jocelyn Penn led Carolina to a 97-51 win over Kentucky on Feb. 27, 2003, with 35 points.
Charenee Stephens' double-double (points/rebound) was the first by a Gamecock freshman since Demetress Adams achieved the feat twice in 2005-06 (11 pts/12 reb vs. High Point on Nov. 18; 12 pts/10 reb vs. Bethune-Cookman on Dec. 21). It was the first double-double for a Carolina freshman in an SEC game since Iva Sliskovic helped Carolina to a 77-51 win over Alabama on Feb. 12, 2004.
South Carolina's 20 3-point attempts were the most since the Gamecocks played at Ole Miss last season (Jan. 20, 2008). In that outing, however, Carolina hit just 5-of-24 (20.8 percent) compared to this season's 40.0 percent accuracy (8-of-20).
The Gamecocks' 33 free throw attempts were the most since shooting 35 times from the charity stripe against South Carolina State on Dec. 17, 2005. In that game, a 75-40 victory, Carolina hit 22-of-35 (62.9 percent) compared to this season's 78.8 percent accuracy (26-33).
In Colonial Times
While the Gamecocks' home court may have taken on a new name, South Carolina continues to enjoy a decisive advantage in Colonial Life Arena. Despite a loss in the 2008-09 home opener, South Carolina has won 64.5 percent (71-40) of its games at the facility. The Gamecocks won a high of 15 games in the building in the 2006-07 season and lost a record-low two games in 16 home contests in 2002-03. In non-conference games, South Carolina has a 53-11 record in Colonial Life Arena for a .828 winning percentage.
Figuring Out February
South Carolina is 168-124 all-time in the month of February. The Gamecocks have twice gone undefeated in the second month of the year, posting a 7-0 record in the 1990-91 season and a 9-0 mark in the 1985-86 campaign. The 1977-78 squad recorded the most February wins with 11, finishing the month with an 11-1 slate. In the shortest month of the year, Carolina is 99-36 at home, 51-70 on the road and 12-9 at neutral sites (14 games in the Gamecock history books do not include the site of the contest, during which Carolina is 6-8). The Gamecocks have six games on their February calendar this season and are 0-1 so far.
You Can Call Me Cocoa
Sophomore Lauren Falohun (Atlanta, Ga./Pace Academy) averages 3.4 points and 1.3 assists ... hit 5-of-6 from the free throw line, both career-best numbers, at Kentucky and played a career-high 35 minutes ... drew the start and played a career-high 33 minutes against LSU, swiping a pair of steals ... played 28 minutes and scored six points against No. 17/18 Vanderbilt ... added five points off the bench at Ole Miss ... hit her first bucket in SEC play, a 3-pointer, against No. 19 Florida.
The Kennedy Legacy
Sophomore Samone Kennedy (Birmingham, Ala./Ramsay) has started 12 of the last 13 games ... leads the team and is 15th in the SEC with 2.7 assists per game ... scores 5.0 points per game ... is 11th in the league with 3.4 assists per SEC game and is ninth with a 1.2 assist-to-turnover ratio in league play ... swiped three steals to go with five points and two assists at Kentucky ... handed out a pair of assists in just eight minutes off the bench against LSU ... led the team with three assists to go with five points against No. 17/18 Vanderbilt ... handed out four assists at Ole Miss ... tied her season high with seven assists at No. 13/15 Tennessee ... added 11 points, including a 3-pointer early in the game, and dished three assists against No. 19 Florida ... handed out three assists and swiped two steals to go with six points at Georgia ... played the full 40 minutes for the first time in her career against No. 9/8 Auburn, handing out three assists against just one turnover and scoring seven points.
Jewel of the Nile
Sophomore Jewel May (Conyers, Ga./Heritage) will wear jersey number 24 for the rest of the season in honor of senior Demetress Adams, who is out for the season with an injury ... has grabbed 5.7 rebounds per game to go with 4.7 points per outing ... has led the team in rebounding six times this season ... paced the team with eight rebounds at Kentucky ... tied her career high with two steals and snared four rebounds against LSU ... grabbed six rebounds against No. 17/18 Vanderbilt ... tied her career high with two blocked shots at No. 13/15 Tennessee and pulled down three offensive rebounds ... grabbed a game-high eight rebounds at Georgia, including four on the offensive end ... added six points and five rebounds, including three offensive, against No. 9/8 Auburn despite playing just 26 minutes due to foul trouble.
A Newton of Force
Redshirt freshman Courtney Newton (Flowery Branch, Ga./Flowery Branch) has played in 15 games after missing the first two games with a right knee injury ... averages 2.4 points and 1.9 rebounds ... netted nine points and swiped a career-high three steals at Kentucky ... drew her first start of the season against LSU, scoring seven points, including a career-best 4-of-4 free throw showing ... poured in 10 points, including a 3-pointer in the last second of the first half, and grabbed a career-high five rebounds at Ole Miss ... hit the only shot she took, a 3-pointer, against No. 19 Florida.
Set the Pace
Senior C.J. Pace (Snellville, Ga./Chipola College) averages 6.9 points and 5.8 rebounds, 18th-best in the SEC on the boards ... added eight points and six rebounds at Kentucky ... was in double figures for the second-straight game with 11 points, including three 3-pointers for the second-consecutive outing, to go with seven rebounds against LSU ... scored a career-high 19 points against No. 17/18 Vanderbilt and narrowly missed her second double-double of the season with a game-high tying nine rebounds, including a career-high five on the offensive end ... grabbed eight rebounds, including a career-high four on the offensive end, and handed out a career-high three assists against No. 19 Florida ... led the team with seven rebounds and scored six points against No. 9/8 Auburn.
Freshman Charenee Stephens (Decatur, Ga./Southwest DeKalb) has played in every game since making her season debut on Dec. 28 after sitting out the first 10 games for personal reasons ... is averaging 3.9 points and 4.9 rebounds ... made her debut in the starting lineup at Kentucky, snagging five rebounds ... led the team with nine rebounds against LSU, adding 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting ... recorded her first career double-double with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds at Ole Miss ... led the team with a career-high 11 rebounds, including five offensive, at No. 13/15 Tennessee while tying her career high with six points ... scored a season-high six points against No. 19 Florida, going 3-of-4 from the field ... netted four points and matched her season high with four rebounds at Georgia, playing 19 minutes ... scored her first career points with a pair of baskets against No. 9/8 Auburn while adding three rebounds to the effort.
Freshman Lakeisha Sutton (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) is the team's third-highest scorer with 10.4 points per game ... is 11th in the SEC with a .685 free throw percentage ... has scored in double figures 11 times, including six games with 15 or more points ... is second on the team with 13.6 points per game in SEC play to rank 13th in the league (tops among SEC freshmen) ... has handed out 3.4 assists per game against SEC opponents, 11th-best in the league ... led the team with 15 points on 4-of-5 shooting at Kentucky, playing just 22 foul-plagued minutes ... netted a game-high 19 points on a career-high eight field goals against LSU ... just missed reaching double figures for the 10th time this season with nine points against No. 17/18 Vanderbilt ... posted career highs of seven rebounds and seven assists at Ole Miss to go with 15 points ... hit 3-of-3 from 3-point range at No. 13/15 Tennessee, just the third time in school history a freshman has shot that well from behind the arc ... tied her season-high with five assists against No. 19 Florida, scoring seven points as well ... sparked the offense late to finish with 18 points at Georgia, hitting 6-of-7 field goals to tie for fourth-best field goal percentage by a freshman in school history ... poured in 17 points against No. 9/8 Auburn, including hitting 7-of-8 from the free-throw line.
Freshman Miranda Tate (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) is scoring 3.5 points and grabbing 2.0 rebounds per game ... matched her career high with 21 minutes against LSU, scoring seven points and swiping a pair of steals ... tied for game-high honors with a career-high nine rebounds against No. 17/18 Vanderbilt, playing just 15 minutes ... also shot a career-best 75.0 percent (3-of-4) from the field for seven points against the Commodores ... added a bucket at Georgia.
Freshman Tonia Williams (Warner Robins, Ga./Houston County) has come off the bench in six games this season ... played at Kentucky for the first time in two months, grabbing a pair of rebounds.