Highlights from women's basketball's 25-8 season, the second-straight 20-win campaign.
April 1, 2013
No. 17/14 South Carolina finished the season with a 25-8 record after advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The season winning percentage of .758 is the fourth best in school history, second highest in the SEC era.
The Gamecocks' 11 regular-season SEC victories reset the previous school record of 10, which the program posted in 2011-12 and 2001-02. This season's team also matched the school record for regular-season victories with 23, tying the 1979-80 team that finished its season 30-6.
This marks the second-straight 20-win season for South Carolina, just the fourth since the Gamecocks joined the SEC for the 1991-92 season. The last back-to-back 20-win seasons were 2001-02 and 2002-03, which was also the last time South Carolina went to the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons
South Carolina finished fourth in the SEC for the second-straight season and just the third time finishing at least that high since joining the league for the 1991-92 season (2002 team finished tied for second).
Four of South Carolina's eight losses came by four or fewer points and just one of the eight was by double digits. Just two of the eight were to a team ranked outside the top 20 at the time of the game, including the NCAA Tournament second-round loss to unranked Kansas.
The Gamecocks are currently fifth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 50.3 points per game on the season. In fact, an opponent scored 60 or more points in just five of the season's 33 games.
South Carolina's win at Ole Miss was the 100th SEC win in program history - 38 of the now 102 wins have come in the five seasons of the Dawn Staley era.
South Carolina's 10-game win streak that opened the season was the fourth longest in school history and the second longest in the SEC era (the 2001-02 team won 12 straight).
The Gamecocks' 791 free throw attempts on the season are a school record, surpassing the 1978-79 team's 748. This season's 446 free throws made ranks fourth in school history.
South Carolina's +9.2 rebounding margin, which is 10th best in the nation, is a school record, surpassing the 2006-07 team's mark of +8.5.
This season's team is among the five best rebounding in program history, including the second-most offensive boards in school history (571, just 21 behind the 2006-07 team's record of 592).
Though typically undersized compared to its opponents, the Gamecocks' starting frontcourt of senior Ashley Bruner and sophomore Aleighsa Welch combined for 19 double-doubles this season. Bruner averaged a double-double in the postseason (SEC and NCAA Tournaments), recording one in all four games to finish the season with nine. Welch added 10 double-doubles.
South Carolina has been ranked in 20 of the last 30 Associated Press polls, peaking at No. 14 the week of February 24, the highest ranking since the Jan. 13, 2003, poll also had the Gamecocks at No. 14.
The Gamecocks went into the NCAA Tournament with an RPI of 17 and a top-30 strength of schedule.
Staley is 92-66 (.582) through five seasons as the head coach at South Carolina, lifting her 13-year career record to 264-146 (.644).
The Gamecocks have won more games, both overall and in the SEC, than the previous season in each of the last four campaigns under Staley.
Staley's 82 wins in the last four season marks the most successful four-year stretch in the SEC era.
Staley has taken the Gamecocks into the postseason three times, including the last two NCAA Tournaments. She has guided 10 teams to postseason play in the 13 seasons of her head coaching career, including eight NCAA appearances.
The Gamecocks' 2011-12 appearance in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 was the deepest into the event that Staly has led a team.
Staley's success has come with homegrown talent as the Gamecocks have landed a South Carolina Player of the Year in each of the last three seasons - Aleighsa Welch (2011), Asia Dozier (2012) and 2013 signee Alaina Coates.
Staley was named a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2013. The selections for the class will be announced on Mon., April 8.
Individual Student-Athlete Notes
Senior guard Ieasia Walker became the first Gamecock to earn one of the SEC's player of the year awards from the coaches as she was tabbed SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Her selection to the All-SEC First Team was the first for a Gamecock since Jocelyn Penn in 2003. She earned second-team honors from the Associated Press.
Senior Ashley Bruner and sophomore Aleighsa Welch earned spots on the All-SEC Second Team, making it the second-straight season that three Gamecocks have been among the coaches' choices for the league's best players. Welch went on to add honorable mention recognition from the Associated Press.
Fourth-year seniors Ieasia Walker and Ashley Bruner have been a part of more SEC regular-season wins (36) in their careers than any other Gamecock.
Walker is currently ranked 36th in the nation in steals per game. Her 90 steals on the season rank fourth in school history and moved her into fourth place in the career steals standings as well (258).
Walker finished her career as just the third player in program history to amass at least 1,000 career points, 250 career assists and 250 career steals. She ranks 21st in the career scoring list (1,157 points) and is 16th in career assists (312). Playing in 130 career games, she is tied for second in that category, trailing just Sheila Foster's 134 (1978-82).
Bruner became just the 14th player in program history to collect at least 700 career rebounds, pulling down 701 in her four seasons. She finished her career with 338 offensive rounds, ranking fourth in school history. Her 106 offensive boards in this season's 33 games are the seventh most in school history. Her 128 career games played is tied for fourth in program history.
In just two seasons, Welch ranks among the program's top 10 career offensive rebounders. She is just the fourth player in school history to record at lest 100 offensive rebounds in a season twice. Her 131 this season are the second most in school history, trailing Marsha Williams' 133 in 1991-92. Her 33 games started this season are the most ever by a Gamecock sophomore.
Sophomore center Elem Ibiam was the team's third-highest scorer and second-best rebounder in postseason action with 11.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. She entered the four-game stretch averaging 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds on the season. Ibiam scored in double figures three times after the regular season, including a double-double (12 points/10 rebounds) against Kansas in the NCAA Tournament second round.