Women Tip Off with Anderson Sunday at 3 p.m.
Nov. 3, 2012
South Carolina Game Notes
GAMECOCK WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
Sunday, November 4, 2012
Colonial Life Arena (18,000)
Live Stats: GamecocksOnline.com
Live Video: GamecocksOnline.com
- This is the Gamecocks' 39th season as a varsity sport.
- The 2012-13 season is the fifth at the helm for South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley. Her teams combined for 27 SEC regular-season victories, the best four-year mark for the program in more than a decade.
- The Gamecocks are 4-0 in exhibition games under head coach Dawn Staley after defeating Limestone 84-53.
- The media selected South Carolina to finish seventh in the SEC, despite the Gamecocks' fourth-place finish (tied) last season.
- South Carolina is coming off its fourth NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in school history. The Gamecocks return 52.4 percent of points and 65.9 percent of rebounds from that season.
- The Gamecocks are celebrating the 10th anniversary of Colonial Life Arena, a building the women's team opened with a 72-58 win over Clemson in front of a program-record 17,712 fans.
- South Carolina officially opens the 2012-13 season against Elon on Fri., Nov. 9, at 7 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks play eight of their 13 non-conference games at home this season.
South Carolina technically returns just one starter from last season, but two others were key members of the Gamecocks' NCAA Sweet 16 run. Senior Ieasia Walker has started 64 of the team's 68 games over the last two seasons. As a sophomore (2010-11), she led the team in scoring with 12.2 points per game. Walker went on to pace the squad in assists, ranking seventh in the SEC at 3.2 per game, as a junior.
Among the team's other five returning letterwinners are senior Ashley Bruner and sophomore Aleighsa Welch, both of whom played considerable minutes last season. Bruner has proven over the last two seasons to be one of the SEC's most tenacious rebounders, overcoming her height disadvantage with good instincts and effort. She was among the league's top 20 rebounders last season and ranked sixth in offensive rebounding as a sophomore. Welch earned SEC All-Freshman honors after pacing the Gamecocks with 6.1 rebounds per game, good for 13th in the league.
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley added five student-athletes to her roster this season, especially providing talent and height on the backcourt while building a foundation for the frontcourt. The group is made up of the Gatorade North and South Carolina Players of the Year (Tiffany Mitchell and Asia Dozier, respectively), a Parade All-American (Khadijah Sessions), a top-30 point guard (Tiffany Davis) and a JUCO All-American (Wilka Montout).
The Trojans come to Columbia fresh off a 72-65 win at Clemson on Friday night after trailing by as many as 16 points late in the first half. The team returns all five starters and five other letterwinners from last season's 10-17 squad. Senior guard Alissa Diaz led the offense last season and is back on that track this season, scoring 21 points at Clemson. She hit 11-of-12 from the free throw line, including three in the final 17 seconds to help seal the victory. Senior forward Breonda Shannon averaged a team-best 8.1 rebounds last season to go with her 8.2 points per game, second best on the team.
The Gamecocks and Trojans are not meeting for the first time on Sunday having played nine times in the late 1970s. Anderson leads the series 6-3, but the series ended on a high note for South Carolina, which claimed an 87-64 victory at home in the last meeting on Feb. 15, 1978.
Watching the Gamecocks
Fans can catch up with the Gamecocks on television nine times this season. South Carolina will also live stream video of all of its non-televised home games for free via its official athletics website, www.GamecocksOnline.com.
The television schedule opens with four non-conference games, beginning with the Savannah State game on Nov. 15 on SportSouth. The station also will air games against Clemson (Nov. 18) and Furman (Dec. 9). The non-conference portion of the TV schedule closes with the Dec. 19 game against Stanford. The SEC package kicks in on Jan. 3 with the home game against Tennessee on SportSouth. Cox Sports Southeast airs the Jan. 13 contest at Georgia before the Gamecocks return to SportSouth for a Jan. 24 outing against Kentucky. SEC Network will broadcast South Carolina's game at Ole Miss (Feb. 17), and the regular-season finale against Florida (March 3) will air on SportSouth.
South Carolina was 14-4 last season in games televised live, including a 7-1 mark in SEC action and a 4-2 record in postseason play.
South Carolina put together its best season in a decade last season, reaching the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 for the first time since 2001-02 and making the program's first ever appearance in the SEC Tournament semifinals. The team's 25 victories tied for the most during the program's time in the SEC, matching that of the 2001-02 team, which advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight.
The Gamecocks found success behind a steady dose of stifling defense, ranked fourth in the nation, and a diversified offense. South Carolina allowed more than 55 points just 12 times in 25 games and held five nationally ranked opponents to that mark or lower. Seven different Gamecocks led the team in scoring, and eight scored in double figures at least once. South Carolina's 14-2 start earned the program's first national ranking since the end of the 2002-03 season, and the Gamecocks finished the season ranked No. 25 by the Associated Press. The team posted the most SEC wins since the 2001-02 squad also had 10. Signature league wins included the program's first sweeps of Vanderbilt and Florida and its first win over Tennessee in Knoxville.