Stephens Powers Gamecocks Past Tigers
S.C. - South Carolina took advantage of ball movement on offense and
aggressive defense to earn a 65-48 win over Clemson in women’s
basketball action at Littlejohn Coliseum Thursday night. The Gamecocks
got 19 points from senior Charenee Stephens and a stat-filling
five-point, six-assist, seven-steal night from senior co-captain
La’Keisha Sutton. South Carolina shot 50.0 percent in the first half
for a commanding 17-point halftime lead.
“I thought we played
two solid halves from a defensive standpoint where we executed the game
plan to a T,” Staley said. “In the second half our offense got a little
shaky, but our defense picked it up. It was important in this game that
when we got a lead we held onto it. Everyone that came in contributed
in a way that they can feel good about the win.”
stormed out of the gate, putting their arch rivals on their heels 10-2
five minutes into the game. Stephens was dominant early on the inside,
and Markeshia Grant added balance from the perimeter driving in as the
two accounted for all 10 early points. The Tigers scored the next four
points off a pair of Gamecock turnovers, but South Carolina went right
back inside, this time to Ashley Bruner.
Leading 13-10 with
11:22 in the half, South Carolina ramped up the defense and its
relentless attack of the basket to net the next 10 points unanswered.
Bruner kicked off the surge with a free throw, and Grant added a
driving layup after an offensive rebound extended the next possession.
Stephens put back a missed shot, and, after a Clemson turnover, Ebony
Wilson flashed up the lane for a 20-10 Gamecock advantage with 8:52 on
the clock. Another defensive stop set up a traditional three-point play
for Bruner to cap the spurt.
Still leading by 11, 26-15, the
Gamecocks put together another surge. This one was led by the guards
with Ieasia Walker hitting a pair of free throws, La’Keisha Sutton
adding a driving layup, and Tina Roy knocked down a jumper from the
left elbow, stretching the advantage to 32-15. The teams traded baskets
over the final 4:45, allowing the Gamecocks to take a 42-26 lead into
the locker room at halftime.
The second half got off to a
frenetic pace with neither team seizing control, but Walker finally got
the Gamecocks on track with a drive up the lane to kick off a 6-0 run
that also saw Stephens capitalize on a busted drive from Grant for a
bucket and Walker hit a step-back jumper for a 50-30 advantage at the
13:14 mark. The Tigers appeared to be making a run with six unanswered
points, but the Gamecocks went back to Stephens who answered with the
Gamecocks’ next eight points to open up a 58-38 lead 6:39 left to play.
Stephens was the only Gamecock in double figures, the offense was
balanced throughout the night. Roy finished with nine points, and four
other Gamecocks added six apiece. The rebounding was equally a team
effort. Courtney Newton, Stephens and Aleighsa Welch tied for team-high
honors with five each.