A scoring attack featuring five players in double figures was again the key for the Gamecocks as they picked up their second straight SEC win on Thursday night, defeating Kentucky 79-71 at home.
Freshman center Kelsey Bone led the way with a 23-point effort, but a number of other players were effective in the effort. Valerie Nainima scored 14 points, Charenee Stephens finished with 11 and Ieasia Walker and Samone Kennedy added ten points apiece.
Bone believes the balance will make it more difficult for teams to stop the Gamecocks offensively.
“It’s forcing teams to have to pick their poison. Either they have to stop what’s going on inside with Charenee and myself or try to contain our guards outside,” she said. “What is it going to do is open a lot up for Charenee and I. You have to respect Val’s shot. You have to respect Samone and Keisha driving inside.”
Head Coach Dawn Staley agreed that spreading the points out will bode well for South Carolina.
“It helps when everyone is a threat out there on the floor. It’s hard for anyone to guard us,” she said. “We do set up Kelsey and Val with a lot of shots, but at the same time, other people have to be a threat out there.”
Sophomore forward Charnee Stephens provided a threat tonight, finishing in double figures for the second consecutive game after scoring 10 against Alabama on Sunday.
“She’s been trying to get herself back into playing shape and she looked pretty good,” said Staley. “She did her job and a little bit more tonight.”
Staley said the game plan for the Gamecocks was to emphasize points in the paint.
“We felt like their strength was putting the ball on the floor and attacking and that our strength was closer to the basket with Kelsey’s back to the basket. Whatever team was able to play out to their strength was going to win the game,” she said.
South Carolina finished with 52 points in the paint and scored 10 off fast breaks against Kentucky.
“I think our team executed our game plan to the T,” said Staley.
Key Box Score
|Total FG-FGA||3 pt FG-FGA||FT-FTA||Rebs||Pts||Assts||TO||Blk||Stl||Min|
|C Kelsey Bone||11-14||0-0||1-2||9||23||0||4||1||1||36|
The freshman turned in her third-best scoring effort of the season tonight and was just a rebound shy of her sixth double-double. Bone’s presence and size inside proved to be too much for the Kentucky defense.
“It’s been stressed to me for the last couple of games that it’s time for me to dominate and get back to the Kelsey of old,” Bone said. “It all finally started to click today.”
“We really do depend on Kelsey because she is our height,” said Stephens. “It’s just time for her to dominate.”
“Val made her life easy tonight because she just had to catch and put the ball in the whole. Some stuff she’s going to have to be Kelsey – she’s got great footwork and she has to put the ball in the hole,” said Staley. “She’s certainly going to have to assert herself a lot more.”
- The Gamecocks improved to 2-2 in league play. South Carolina only won two games in the entire SEC schedule last season.
- South Carolina turned the ball over 18 times, snapping Kentucky’s 12-game streak of forcing 23 turnovers in a game.
- The Gamecocks shot over 50% from the field for the second consecutive game, hitting 55% of their shots tonight.
- Carolina shot above their average from behind the arc, making 3-of-6 (50%).
- After dishing out 14 assists against Alabama, the Gamecocks had double digits assists against tonight, finishing with 14.
“That’s why we’re winning. That’s why we’re putting together a two-game winning streak – because we’re really concentrating on the little things.” – Head Coach Dawn Staley.
“We’ve just got to bring the magic every night.” – Charenee Stephens.