Date: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 Time: 7 p.m. Location: Columbia, S.C. Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000) Tickets: $7 Adult, $4 youth under 12 TV: None Live Video:GamecocksOnline.com Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller); GamecocksOnline.com Live Stats:GamecocksOnline.com Drexel Series: SC leads 1-0; In Columbia: First Meeting; In Philadelphia: SC leads 1-0
This is the Gamecocks' 39th season as a varsity sport, the fifth with head coach Dawn Staley at the helm.
While rebounding has been a team effort this season, South Carolina is just one of two SEC teams with two of the league's top-10 rebounders. The Gamecocks are second in the nation in rebounding margin (+20.6).
The Gamecocks have held six of their seven opponents under 50 points this season. South Carolina ranks seventh in the nation in scoring defense and ninth in field goal percentage defense.
Sophomore forward Aleighsa Welch is 16th in the nation with three double-doubles this season.
Guard Tiffany Mitchell was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Nov. 19 after averaging 13.0 points and 6.3 rebounds over three games last week. She scored in double figures in all three games, including a season-high 16 against Clemson to tie for game-high honors.
A South Carolina Win Would...
Make the Gamecocks 8-0 on the season, the program's best start since the 2002-03 team also went 8-0. The longest undefeated streak to open a season in school history is 10 by the 1981-82 team, which advanced to the Gamecocks' first NCAA Sweet 16.
Be the Gamecocks' second over Drexel in as many contests and give South Carolina a 23-13 record against Colonial Athletic Association opponents.
By the Numbers .452 Percentage of Ashley Bruner's rebounds that have come on the offensive end this season .557 Field goal percentage of senior forward Ashley Bruner, which is the best in the SEC 2 Teams in the SEC, including South Carolina, with two of the league's top 10 offensive rebounders - (Aleighsa Welch, 4.7 per game, third; and Ashley Bruner, 3.4 per game, eighth) 2 Regular-season tournament titles won by the Gamecocks under head coach Dawn Staley after South Carolina won the Reef Division of the Paradise Jam last week. The Gamecocks won the Cancun Thanksgiving Classic in 2008-09, Staley's first season at the helm. 3 Double-doubles by sophomore forward Aleighsa Welch this season, the first of her career 4 Games this season in which the Gamecocks have out-rebounded their opponent by 20 or more - vs. Florida Gulf Coast (+26; Nov. 24), vs. Hampton (+25; Nov. 22), vs. Savannah State (+24; Nov. 15) and Elon (+20; Nov. 9) 5 Statistical categories in which South Carolina leads the SEC - scoring defense (45.4), field goal percentage defense (.303), rebounding margin (+20.6), offensive rebound percentage (.541) and defensive rebounding percentage (.728) 6.4 Points per game by senior guard Sancheon White this season, nearly double last season's average of 3.5 points 6.6 Rebounds per game by freshman guard Tiffany Mitchell, the second-highest average by an SEC freshman this season 9.6 Rebounds per game by sophomore forward Aleighsa Welch this season, which ranks second in the SEC 12 More rebounds than points posted by the Gamecocks in their 45-34 win over Hampton (Nov. 22) in the first game of the Paradise Jam 20.6 Rebounds per game more by the Gamecocks than their opponents this season, including a +22.3 margin at the Paradise Jam
This is just the second meeting between the Gamecocks and the Dragons as the series debuted last season. South Carolina traveled to Drexel right after Christmas 2011 and escaped with a 62-58 victory. Leading by double-digits with 6:28 to play, South Carolina saw Drexel pull within a basket twice in the final four minutes, including at 60-58 with seven seconds to play. Then-junior guard Ieasia Walker sealed the victory at the free throw line with the last two of her game-high 18 points.
Scouting the Dragons
Drexel enters tonight's game with a 4-1 record after winning a pair of games to claim the title at the LIU Turkey Classic. Senior guard Hollie Mershon leads the offense with 19.0 points per game, including 91.7 percent free throw shooting and 44.6 percent accuracy from the field. She is the engine that makes the rest of the offense go as well, averaging 4.0 assists per game, and is second on the team in rebounding with 6.2 per contest. Senior forward Nicki Jones edges Mershon on the glass, puling down 6.6 rebounds per game, doing a bulk of her work on the defensive glass, and adds 9.8 points per game.
As a team, Drexel averages 57.6 points on 42.4 percent shooting, including 33.8 percent from 3-point range. The Dragons are out-rebounding their opponents by 1.2 boards per game and have allowed opponents to score 44.6 points per game on 35.3 percent shooting.
Head coach Denise Dillon is in her 10th season leading the Dragons and has a 155-126 record in her career.
With a complementary blend of youth and experience, South Carolina has opened the season 7-0 for the first time since the 2002-03 team won its first eight contests. The Gamecocks have shown they have an array of offensive weapons this season while the defense has dropped off very little from last season's NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 effort. South Carolina has posted three of the 25 games in the Dawn Staley era of 70 or more points this season, including three straight for the first time in her fifth season at the helm. Defensively, the Gamecocks have held six of their seven opponents this season under 50 points and limited four of the seven to under 30 percent field goal shooting, including Hampton which hit just 19.3 percent (11-57) from the field for the second-lowest opponent field goal percentage of the Staley era.
Home Sweet Home
South Carolina is in its 11th season at Colonial Life Arena and enjoys a 108-55 (.663) record in that time. Overall, the Gamecocks are 352-152 all-time in home games. Since South Carolina first entered a conference in the 1983-84 season, the Gamecocks are 284-131 in non-conference home games.
Head coach Dawn Staley has amassed a 42-22 home record in her fifth season at the helm, including a 25-5 mark in non-conference action.
South Carolina is 81-39 (.675) all-time in games played in November. That total includes a 40-10 record (.800) at home and a 22-17 mark (.564) on the road. Head coach Dawn Staley accounts for a 22-10 record (.688) in the first month of the season.
Prior to the season, head coach Dawn Staley talked about her reservations about her team's ability to rebound without the traditional physically imposing frontline. The Gamecocks have shaken off that criticism, and the team's concerted effort to crash the boards has South Carolina leading the SEC in rebounding margin at +20.6. In fact, the Gamecocks are far ahead of the pack as second-ranked Kentucky comes in with a +11.0 rebounding edge.
In the Staley era, South Carolina has posted a +20 or better rebounding margin seven times, including four times this season, led by the Nov. 23 matchup against Florida Gulf Coast in which the Gamecocks out-boarded their opponent by 26. Against Clemson on Nov. 18, South Carolina faced a taller team for the first time and still snagged 18 more rebounds than the Lady Tigers.
The numbers for the Gamecocks are not just about volume either. They reflect the tenacity with which the team pursues the carom. South Carolina leads the SEC in both offensive and defensive rebound percentage. The Gamecocks have pulled down 54.1 percent of their own missed shots (146 of 270 opportunities) and reeled in 72.8 percent of their opponents' misses (195 of 268 opportunities).