South Carolina closes non-conference slate against Catamounts, led by former Gamecock standout Karen Middleton.
Dec. 28, 2012
GAMECOCK WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
South Carolina Game Notes
Saturday, December 29, 2012
Colonial Life Arena
$7 adult/$4 youth
Live Video: GmecocksOnline.com
Live Stats: GamecocksOnline.com
SC leads 4-0; In Columbia:
SC leads 3-0; In Cullowhee:
SC leads 1-0
- The Gamecock defense has held nine of its 12 opponents to less than 50 points. South Carolina yielded just 34 to Hampton (Nov. 22) and held the Lady Pirates to just 19.3 percent shooting. Another resume bullet for one of the nation's stingiest groups is the 53 points the Gamecocks allowed #1/1 Stanford to score (Dec. 21) after the Cardinal entered the game averaging 78.6 per contest.
- Senior guard Ieasia Walker needs just four steals to become the 13th Gamecock to swipe at least 200 in her career. The three-year starter is also on track to reach the 1,000-point plateau this season.
- Both Western Carolina head coach Karen Middleton and assistant coach Tréka McMillian enjoyed four-year playing careers at South Carolina.
A South Carolina Win Would...
- Give the Gamecocks 12 non-conference regular-season wins this season, the most since the 2001-02 team also turned in a 12-1 record before kicking off SEC play. That team went on to reach the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight, the farthest into the event any Gamecock basketball team - men's or women's - has advanced in the event.
- Be the Gamecocks' fifth straight over Western Carolina.
By the Numbers
3 Teams in the SEC that average more fans per home game than the Gamecocks' 3,949
4 Steals needed by senior guard Ieasia Walker to become just the 13th Gamecock to swipe at least 200 in her career
5.0 Steals per game by senior guard Ieasia Walker over the last three games, including a career-high tying six against SC State
6 Double-doubles by sophomore forward Aleighsa Welch, the most in the SEC this season and the most by a Gamecock since the 2009-10 season
9 Double-doubles recorded by the Gamecocks this season after last season's squad posted just two
14 Deficit at halftime for the Gamecocks against Drexel before coming back to win in overtime, the largest deficit South Carolina has overcome since rallying from 18 points down with 8:15 to play in the first half against LSU on Jan. 6, 2011 and the largest second-half deficit overcome by the Gamecocks in the Dawn Staley era
22 Points scored by the Gamecocks on 24 offensive rebounds against SC State (Dec. 21)
25.6 Points below its season average that the Gamecock defense held #1/1 Stanford (Dec. 19) in the four-point Cardinal victory
27 Free throws made by the Gamecocks against SC State (Dec. 21), a Dawn Staley era record
32 Points of the Gamecocks' 49 against #1/1 Stanford (Dec. 19) scored by senior Ieasia Walker (15) and sophomore Aleighsa Welch (17)
47.7 Points per game by the Gamecocks' starting lineup this season
523 Career rebounds by senior forward Ashley Bruner, placing her among just 26 Gamecocks to achieve the 500-rebound plateau and ranking her 25th in school history in the category
The Western Carolina Series
Since South Carolina women's basketball officially became part of the intercollegiate athletics department om 1974-75, the Gamecocks and Catamounts have played four times. South Carolina won all four meetings, including the most recent matchup exactly seven years ago today. The Gamecocks claimed a 95-53 victory on Dec. 29, 2005, at Colonial Life Arena to stay undefeated against the Catamounts. All but one of the games in this series has been played in Columbia.
Scouting the Catamounts
Western Carolina is off to a tough start to the 2012-13 season with a 3-7 record as the Catamounts have struggled to put points on the board. They have scored at least 50 points just four times through 10 games and do not have a player averaging double figures. Like the Gamecocks, Western Carolina has fought through games with defense, posting a +1.7 turnover margin and holding its own on the boards.
Senior Diamond Hunnicutt leads the offense with 9.1 points per game and leads the defense with 15 steals. Sophomore Ali Lane averages just 8.6 points but has scored in double figures each of the last two games. Junior Shauna Terry paces the Catamounts on the glass with 5.8 rebounds per game and has blocked 13 shots.
As a team, Western Carolina averages 51.2 points per game on 34.1 percent shooting, including 26.1 percent from 3-point range. The Catamounts have been out-rebounded by 1.8 boards per game, while opponents have scored 56.4 points per game on 42.1 percent shooting, including 33.1 percent from outside the arc.
Western Carolina head coach Karen Middleton is in her fourth season, leading the Catamounts to a 32-71 record, including last season's 14-17 mark.
Gamecocks' Five-Second Count
With a complementary blend of youth and experience, South Carolina opened a season 10-0 for the first time since the 1981-82 team also won its first 10 contests. The Gamecocks, now 11-1 have shown they have both inside and outside offensive options and are dominant on the glass this season while the defense has dropped off very little from last season's NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 effort. Two Gamecocks average double-figure points with three others netting five or more points per game. South Carolina ranks among the nation's best with a +14.1 rebounding margin and has three players ranked among the SEC's top 15 rebounders. Defensively, the Gamecocks have held nine of their 12 opponents this season under 50 points and limited five of the 12 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.
Old Home Week
Longtime Gamecock fans looking at visitor's bench tonight will have to be forgiven for a natural inclination to root for the Catamounts as head coach Karen Middleton and assistant coach Tréka McMillian once helped the Gamecocks to three straight Metro Conference regular-season titles.
Middleton was an immediate impact player for the Gamecocks, earning Freshman All-America status in 1987-88 before capturing all-conference honors as a junior and senior. The two-time Academic All-District selection played in four NCAA Tournaments during the Gamecocks' most prosperous era. Her junior season, she helped South Carolina to the Sweet 16. Middleton is the seventh-highest scorer in school history with 1,714 career points, and she holds the school record for career 3-pointers made (317) and 3-point percentage (.445). Her 115 3s made her senior season (1990-91) is the school record, as are her 265 attempts that season. Middleton holds the program's top four single-season 3-point percentages, topping out at 46.9 percent (76-162) her junior season.
McMillian a two-year starter who averaged 6.3 rebounds her last two seasons, the last of which was the Gamecocks' first in the SEC. She earned an NCAA Women's Enhancement Program Post-Graduate Scholarship her senior year.
Five for Fighting
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley has used the same starting lineup in every game this season, and the quintet has led the way to the program's best non-conference record since 2001-02. Starters - Ieasia Walker, Sancheon White, Tiffany Mitchell, Ashley Bruner and Aleighsa Welch - account for 75.1 percent of the offense and 68.3 percent of rebounds while playing 70.0 percent of the minutes available. Each of the five averages at least 5.5 points per game, more than any Gamecock off the bench. Still, the four reserves available have outscored their counterparts on the opposite bench eight times this season, during which the Gamecocks are 7-1.
Jane of All Trades
Senior guard Ieasia Walker's ability to adapt her game to the needs of her team has been a key factor in the team's success in her four seasons in the Garnet and Black. After coming off the bench most of her freshman year, the guard's offense exploded in 2010-11 as the team's predicted offensive weapons faltered. Walker more than doubled her scoring output to a team-high 12.2 points per game, including 13.3 points per SEC contest. As a junior, the point guard shifted her focus to conducting the team, both offensively and defensively. While her scoring average dropped to 7.9 points in 2011-12, her overall productivity did not. Walker led the team with 3.2 assists per game, which helped the team generate another 6.9 points per game. In all, her offensive prowess generated 25.4 percent of the team's 61.2 points per game.
This season, Walker has shown her versatility, adding another component to her on-court effort - leadership. With six underclassmen on the roster, Walker has shown patience through the non-conference season, stepping out of the spotlight to allow her younger teammates to find their way. Still, the senior has scored in double figures five times, paced the team in assists six times and ranks 10th in the SEC in steals per game (2.3). Her ability to read the team's needs, has yielded a box score that has two post players and a freshman guard among the team's top three scorers so far this season - a first in the Dawn Staley era.
Posts Up - Spurs Up
For the first time in the Dawn Staley era, two of the team's top three scorers are post players. Forwards Aleighsa Welch and Ashley Bruner have been an integral part in the team's 11-1 start this season, averaging 12.7 and 9.7 points, respectively. Welch is shooting a team-best 67.9 percent from the field, although she is five field goals shy of the minimum required to be ranked in the SEC.
The duo are among the league's top 10 rebounders with Welch leading the league at 9.5 per game and Bruner coming in ninth at 7.4. Both are especially proficient on the offensive glass, ranking first and eighth, respectively, in the league. More than half of Welch's 114 total rebounds have come on the offensive end (59), while 48.3 percent of Bruner's have come on a Gamecock miss. Welch has the second-highest single-game rebound total in the SEC this season with her career-high 15 against Drexel.