Second Half Surge
After a closely played first half that saw the Gamecocks go into the locker room leading 30-27, South Carolina needed a pick-me-up to put High Point in the rear-view mirror.
“High Point’s a good team, but we didn’t come out with energy,” said junior guard Valerie Nainima. “We talked about it at halftime. [In the second half] some players gave us some early energy and that trickles down and encourages us to play better.”
“I was pretty calm [at halftime],” said South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley. “I asked them what kind of team they want to be. I understand they’re tired, but there’s another level of basketball being played out there and we want to join that party.”
The team responded and started the second half with an 8-0 run to extend their lead to 38-27. The Panthers managed to close the gap to six points, but would not get any closer. South Carolina would stretch their lead to 18 points in the final minutes en route to the 70-52 win.
The Gamecocks nearly doubled their shooting percentage (37% to 65%) in the second half and were 10-of-11 from the free throw line in the final period.
As the team improved its record to 4-3, the Gamecocks are still growing and improving.
“I just chalk it up to being young. We take one step forward and two steps back sometimes,” said Staley. “The potential is there. We’re going to be a very good basketball team. We just don’t know when yet.”
“It’s been a learning curve,” said Nainima. “We’re learning so much about ourselves right now. We have to bring it together early. We don’t want to reach the middle of the season and still have to think about what we are as a team.”
Box Score of the Day
|Total FG-FGA||3 pt FG-FGA||FT-FTA||Rebs||Pts||Assts||TO||Blk||Stl|
|G Samone Kennedy||7-11||0-1||0-0||1||14||2||2||0||7|
“Samone has been our rock. She’s been consistent,” said Staley. “I wish she’d be more assertive and look for her shot more often. She fought through being tired today and made good decisions.”
“I felt like we needed more offense today,” said Kennedy. “We wanted to get in transition and get some shots.”
- Nainima continued her hot start to the season, scoring 20 points today. She hit 7-of-13 from the floor and was 5-5 from the charity stripe.
- Fast break points were big for the Gamecocks – South Carolina outscored High Point 23-4 on transition points.
- With the absence of sophomore Charenee Stephens, several players picked up additional minutes in the game. Ebony Wilson played a season-high 29 minutes today. “There’s a lot of girls stepping up. Ebony gave us a lot of energy today. It’s great to see that early in the season,” said Nainima.
- High Point’s bench was a key for the Panthers today, contributing 31 points. South Carolina’s bench chipped in with 17 points.
- The Gamecocks improved to 4-1 when three players scoring in double figures. In addition to Kennedy and Nainima, Kelsey Bone added 13 points.
“We want to win practice every single day so that it can carry over to the game.”
-Kennedy on the team improving early in the season.