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Women's Basketball

Women's Hoops Faces Rutgers Friday Afternoon
Nov. 22, 2017

#3/2 South Carolina at Gulf Coast Showcase



COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 3/2 South Carolina travels to Estero, Fla., for the Gulf Coast Showcase this weekend. The Gamecocks open the eight-team event at Germain Arena on Fri., Nov. 24, at 1:30 p.m. against Rutgers. Two other nationally ranked teams are in the field as potential Sunday opponents for the Gamecocks – No. 6/6 Notre Dame and No. 17/16 USF.

South Carolina Notables

Moving into the No. 3 spot in the Associated Press poll this week, the Gamecocks have now been ranked among the nation’s top three teams in that poll 42 times since the 2014-15 season. In the Dawn Staley era, South Carolina has been ranked in the AP poll 100 times, including 73 weeks in the top 10.
While South Carolina and Rutgers have faced each other just twice in program history, there is a strong connection between the coaching staffs. Gamecock assistant coach Jolette Law, who joined the South Carolina staff this summer, spent 12 seasons on C. Vivian Stringer’s Rutgers staff first as an assistant coach (1995-2003) and then as an associate head coach (2003-07). The Scarlet Knights played in nine NCAA Tournaments during her tenure, including a runner-up finish, two Final Fours, four Elite Eights and six Sweet 16s.
Of the seven other teams in this weekend’s Gulf Coast Showcase, South Carolina has previous history with just four of them. The Gamecocks’ second-round game will feature a first-time opponent, regardless of either first-round matchup. On Sunday, South Carolina could face first-time opponents USF or Washington State.
After spending the 2016-17 season as Penn State’s second-leading scorer, senior transfer Lindsey Spann has put her mark on the Gamecocks’ offense early in her final college season. The SEC’s leading 3-point shooter at 65.2 percent accuracy, she is second in the league in overall field goal percentage (.667) and third in made 3s per game (3.8) – all numbers that rank among the top 25 in the nation. With 15.8 points per game, she is South Carolina’s second-leading scorer while also handing out 3.8 assists per game. Last week she followed up a 20-point performance at Clemson with an eight-assist outing against Wofford.

By the Numbers

2.3 Steals per game by junior guard Doniyah Cliney, which rank her ninth in the SEC
3 Wins away from 400 career coaching victories for Dawn Staley
5 Stats in which A’ja Wilson ranks among the top three in the SEC
35.0 Points per game by which the Gamecocks are out-scoring their opponents this season

Against the Field

In its 44th season of women’s basketball, South Carolina has previously faced just three of its potential seven opponents in this season’s Gulf Coast Showcase. The Gamecocks are 1-1 against Rutgers as the teams split a home-and-home series in the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons, each winning on their home court. South Carolina will face a first-time opponent in its second-round game this weekend, while two of the four possible opponents on Sunday would be first-time foes. The Gamecocks are 10-1 all-time against ETSU having last played the Buccaneers in the 2006-07 season and are 2-2 against Notre Dame, last taking on the Fighting Irish in the 2015 NCAA Final Four in Tampa.

Neutral Stance

The Gamecocks are 118-83 all-time on a neutral court, including a 63-40 mark in regular-season contests. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley is 40-17 in games played at neutral sites, including a 15-5 slate in the regular season.

All-Around A’ja

Few players in the country are more versatile that South Carolina senior forward A’ja Wilson. Averaging 20.8 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.8 blocks, she ranks 51st, 29th and 10th in the nation in those categories, respectively. Unquestionably the team’s “go-to” player at crunch time, Wilson strikes the on-court balance of being star and teammate with her court vision and unselfishness. She is the team’s top scorer for the third-straight season, but never at the expense of the best shot on the floor. This season, as more rebounding has been needed, she has answered the call as well. Wilson has also responded to her head coach’s challenge to expand her skill set, working hard in the off-season on ball-handling to allow her to rebound and immediately start the fast break and even run the offense from the point guard position at times. The growth in her game helps both the Gamecocks, as opponents will have a more difficult time locating her for double-teaming, and Wilson’s preparedness for the next step in her basketball career.

They’re Free, Take Two!

Built around an inside presence for the last three seasons, South Carolina retains its annual spot among the top teams in free throws made and attempted this season. With 67 made free throws and 104 attempts, the Gamecocks are 22nd and 11th in the nation, respectively. Their total attempts lead the SEC, while they rank third in the league in free throws made, trailing Missouri (70) and Alabama (69).


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