With the clocking showing just five minutes to play and leading just 76-75 against a Jacksonville team that seemed to have a grip on momentum, South Carolina senior Devan Downey felt the urgency and took over.
Downey scored 15 of the Gamecocks’ final 21 points to keep South Carolina out of reach from the Dolphins en route to a 97-93 win at Colonial Life Arena on Friday night.
“It’s whatever is best for the team,” said Downey. “I felt like tonight that I had to step up. I told myself that we can’t lose this game.”
Downey started his run with a lay-up at the 4:54 mark and then hit a fade away jumper a minute later to extend South Carolina’s lead to 81-76. He got to the free throw line and hit two free throws to make it 83-76. Downey then nailed a three-pointer coming out of a South Carolina timeout at the two-minute mark to push the lead to 86-78.
Jacksonville refused to go away quietly and eventually battled back, cutting the score to 90-86 with a minute to play. Downey was in the right place again after Lakeem Jackson pulled down a rebound and assisted his point guard for the layup. Seconds later, Downey was back at the line and hit two more shots to give South Carolina a 94-86 lead. The Dolphins would close the lead to 97-93, but it wasn’t enough to pull off the win.
“We made an adjustment late to get him off the ball and put him in scoring position and then ran some stuff that whatever defense they were in, he’d be able to attack,” said South Carolina Head Coach Darrin Horn. “He made some plays and that’s what he does best. There’s no question it was big for us tonight. It was big because it was at the right time.”
Box Score (s) of the Night
Both point guards put on an offensive show on Friday night with Downey getting the edge for the victory and points scored:
|FG-FGA||3 Pt FG-FGA||FT-FTA||REB||PTS||A||TO||STL||MIN|
- Senior Brandis Raley-Ross took advantage of his first start of the season, scoring 18 points shooting 60% from the field. “Brandis is playing really solid and playing like a senior should. He was really efficient tonight for as much as he handled the ball and took good shots. He was just really solid.” – Head Coach Darrin Horn.
- Both teams shot well from the floor with South Carolina shooting 57.4% and Jacksonville shooting 50%.
- South Carolina attempted fewer three-pointers than they did against Miami on Sunday (34), shooting 6-for-12 from behind the arc.
- Gamecocks were solid from the line in the final five minutes, making 1o-of-12. South Carolina shot 70% from the free throw line for the entire game.
- South Carolina improves to 9-2 in the month of November under Darrin Horn. The Gamecocks are 73-25 all-time in the opening month of the season.
“The challenge is with how we’ve structured the schedule. You got a preseason [Atlantic Sun Conference] No. 1 today, you got a preseason [Sun Belt Conference] No. 1 next week and then you got a big rivalry, top-25 team after that. There aren’t going to be any nights off so we’ve got to continue to grow and get locked back in.”
–Head Coach Darrin Horn on the Gamecocks’ upcoming non-conference schedule.