Getting an early lead and starting things out right was crucial for the Gamecocks on Thursday as they picked up a comfortable 64-50 win over Ole Miss at Colonial Life Arena.
Facing a Rebel team fresh off a road win over No. 8 Georgia, South Carolina took a 7-6 lead three minutes into the game and never looked back. The Gamecocks would lead by as much as 20 points.
“We had to come out and start better than we’ve been known to start,” said Kelsey Bone. “We didn’t want to start out with a deficit and then have to fight our way back for the rest of the game.”
Limiting points and opportunities for Ole Miss’ Bianca Thomas was a focus for South Carolina as she averaged 21.8 points per game entering tonight’s contest.
The Gamecocks limited Thomas to just eight points in four minutes. Held scoreless in the first half, Thomas shot 2-of-10 from the field for the game. The senior guard failed to score in double digits for the first time this season.
“Keisha [Sutton] did a really good job pestering her all night,” said Bone.
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said Sutton relishes the opportunity to face a team’s top player.
“She was really focused for this game – she really gets up for the opponent’s top scorer,” she said. “She came in today to watch a little more film to see how she could limit [Thomas’] touches.”
Key Box Score
|Total FG-FGA||3 pt FG-FGA||FT-FTA||Rebs||Pts||Assts||TO||Blk||Stl||Min|
|G Valerie Nainima||6-13||5-9||0-0||2||17||4||3||0||0||37|
The junior guard had her best scoring night in the past three games after scoring just 5 against LSU and 12 against Florida.
“She got back on the scoring side of things and she looked pretty good,” said Staley.
- Thursday’s win doubled South Carolina’s conference win total from last season.
- The Gamecocks’ bench played a key role – contributing 15 points. The Rebels’ bench failed to register a point.
- South Carolina shot 47% from the field and 43% from behind the arc.
- The Gamecocks picked up their third straight win over Ole Miss in Columbia.
“Hopefully, we can get some of that magic that was in here on Tuesday night [at the men’s game vs. Kentucky] and do the unthinkable. If we can get that one – the sky is the limit.” – Dawn Staley on facing Tennessee this Sunday at Colonial Life Arena.