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Second Half Charge Leads Gamecocks Past Cougars


COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina ramped up the defense in the second half, which sparked a sluggish offense, as the Gamecocks topped College of Charleston 59-40 Wednesday night in women’s basketball action at Colonial Life Arena. Taking a one-point lead into the locker room at halftime, the Gamecocks (4-1) exploded in the second half with persistent full-court pressure that unhinged the Cougars (1-3). Markeshia Grant led the way with 14 points, including eight of the team’s first 10 in the second half.

“It was good to see [Markeshia and Ashley Bruner play so well together],” head coach Dawn Staley said. “We needed somebody to step up and take charge on the offensive end. We had too many turnovers in the first half. It was uncharacteristic of our basketball team to play that kind of half. To have Markeshia and Ashley come out the way we did, we needed that kind of boost from the offensive standpoint.”

The first half was a sloppy one for both teams, which combined for 31 turnovers and just 43 points in the first 20 minutes. Long scoring droughts plagued both sides, and the Gamecocks’ shooting woes continued.

After opening a 7-3 lead on a Grant transition layup, South Carolina saw the Cougars battle back with six of the game’s next eight points. With the game knotted at 9-9, Tina Roy drained a 3-pointer from the left wing, but it was the last lead the Gamecocks would see until just before the end of the period. The Cougars took advantage of a spate of South Carolina turnovers to open a 19-15 edge with 5:22 left in the period.

From there, it was the Gamecocks who capitalized on miscues as consecutive trips to the free throw line for Aleighsa Welch cut the lead to one. After a right hook from Deidre Ramer, Grant hit a pair of free throws and Welch put the Gamecocks on top 22-21 with a put-back just before halftime.

The story was much different in the second half as Staley and the Gamecocks unleashed their full-court pressure, which proved highly disruptive to the Cougars. The turnovers, mostly around half-court also allowed South Carolina to speed up its offense, attacking the basket right away.

Grant was the primary beneficiary of the tempo change as she netted eight of the Gamecocks’ first 10 points for a 32-23 lead just three minutes into the half. South Carolina did not let up at all from there with Grant and Ashley Bruner combining for six straight points as the lead stretched to 40-25.

Back-to-back buckets from Brittany Johnson brought CofC within 29-42 with 13:47 on the clock, but an eight-minute scoring drought was the Cougars’ ultimate demise as the Gamecocks extended their advantage to 55-30 by the time Cathryn Hardy hit a free throw to end the skid.

Bruner narrowly missed her first double-double of the season, finishing with 13 points and nine boards, eight of which came in the second half when the Gamecocks as a whole were much more active on the glass. Welch matched Bruner for team-high honors on the glass, including five on the offensive end.



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