Tag Archives: keys to the game

Keys to the Game: MBB vs. LSU

Key Moment

After finally battling their way back into a 45-45 tie with LSU with eleven minutes to play, the Gamecocks didn’t want the game to slip away.

South Carolina locked down on defense (with a little momentum help from the Garnet Army) and went off on a 17-5 run to put the game away for good en route to a 67-58 win on Wednesday night.

One series of plays during the run sent the crowd into a frenzy and put the game away for South Carolina. Clinging to a five-point advantage with under four to go, senior guard Devan Downey put on a brief clinic for those in attendance.

Downey hit a floater to push the lead to seven points and then stole the ball on LSU’s next possession. The guard spotted up and drilled a three-pointer to extend Carolina’s lead to ten. Downey then picked up another steal. He missed the layup, but Lakeem Jackson was there for the follow and within a minute, the Gamecocks were up twelve.

“It was off defense. Every time you’re out there playing well defensively, good things will happen on the offensive end,” said Downey.

After forcing only five turnovers in the opening period, the Gamecocks pressured LSU into ten after the halftime break.

“We keep pressing and attacking them defensively,” said senior Brandis Raley-Ross. “It’s a mentality. It’s a mindest. Our practices are like that. That’s us. That’s South Carolina right there.”

The Gamecocks trailed for most of the first half and didn’t tie the score until the 15:40 mark of the second half.

“The biggest key to the second half is that we made some shots,” said Head Coach Darrin Horn. “At the end of the day, that’s what you have to do in this game. That’s our strength and it helps make our defense go.”

Key Box Score

Total FG-FGA 3 pt FG-FGA FT-FTA Rebs Pts Assts TO Blk Stl Min
G Devan Downey 10-22 6-12 3-6 7 29 2 4 0 3 37

As if there were a question about who would go in this spot. Downey followed up his 33-point performance against Auburn with a 29-point effort against LSU tonight (For the mathematically-challenged, that’s 62 points in two SEC games). In addition, Downey surpassed the 1,500 career points mark as a Gamecock. Downey moved into seventh place on the all-time scoring list at South Carolina. He’s 18 points away from the next player on the list, Carlos Powell.

“Nothing he does surprises us,” said Horn. “That’s what makes special players special is they can do what they want to do and he did that tonight.”

“The last 10 minutes the little guy did what he does best. He made some things happen defensively. He made tough shots. Little guy plays a big game. We’re talking about Downey, of course,” said LSU Head Coach Trent Johnson.

“Monster games. He can put up numbers like that,” said Raley-Ross. “He’s showing it. He’s putting in extra hours in the gym and it’s showing.”

Key Stats

  • The Gamecocks open SEC play with a 2-0 record for the first time since the 96-97 season when South Carolina won their first 11 league games en route to a 15-1 mark.
  • South Carolina hit eleven 3-pointers for the second consecutive game, shooting 11-of-32 from behind the arc on Wednesday night.
  • The Gamecock defense held the Tigers to just 1-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. LSU had averaged 4.6 treys per game coming into tonight’s contest.

Key Quote

“I don’t know who y’all have as player of the game, but I have our crowd. I thought they were tremendous in the second half run, especially our students.” – Coach Horn

“Thank you to the fans. [They] were the player of the game, I wasn’t the player of the game tonight.” – Devan Downey.



Filed under Men's Basketball

Keys to the Game: WBB vs. No. 11/12 LSU

Key Moment

A slow start to the first half turned the game into an uphill battle for the Gamecocks as they fell into 40-19 hole with just under four minutes to go.

South Carolina battled back from the end of the first period and into the second half, cutting the deficit to as little as nine. With eleven minutes remaining in the game, LSU led just 52-43. But the Gamecocks were unable to chip away any further than that and the Tigers held on for the 70-58 win.

It was the second time against a ranked team that the Gamecocks fell behind early and were forced to fight their way back into the game. Freshman Kelsey Bone said the team prepares hard in practice for the ranked opponents, but facing the real deal requires an adjustment.

“It’s a totally different ballgame when you have those actual players from these ranked teams that have All-Americans on the floor – it’s not the same as practice,” said Bone. “It takes us a minute to realize what we’re up against and then the game plan starts to kick in for us.”

“We’ve got to get adjusted to playing against these types of teams,” Bone said. “Our preseason schedule prepared us pretty well for what we’re going to face. It’s a matter of knowing it’s going to come and not being worried about it..I think the first ten minutes of these games are hurting us and once we get over that, we’ll be okay.”

“We have to find a way to even the playing field when we come against a team that’s very talented,” said Head Coach Dawn Staley. “We’ve got to work harder. We don’t work hard every possession and that’s what kills us. We have to scrap for 40 minutes. We tell our team all the time that we can’t have mental lapses and we have to out-work people.”

Key Box Score

Total FG-FGA 3 pt FG-FGA FT-FTA Rebs Pts Assts TO Blk Stl Min
G Allison Hightower 8-16 1-2 6-8 4 23 4 1 4 4 40

The 2010 SEC Preseason Player of the Year and candidate for 2010 National Player of the Year, Allison Hightower was a constant presence in the game for the Tigers. The senior shot 50% from the field and committed just one turnover on Sunday night.

Key Stats

  • Despite playing most of the game in foul trouble, Valerie Nainima still managed to score 13 points to maintain her streak of scoring in double figures. The junior has reached double digits in every game this season.
  • South Carolina’s bench made a strong contribution Sunday night, scoring 28 points.
  • The Gamecocks only forced nine turnovers, a season-low.


-“We’re in a constant battle to figure out what works and what doesn’t work with a young basketball team like we have.” – South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley

-“[Coach Staley] has this program on the absolute right track and on the fast track. This is a great group of young players.” – LSU Head Coach Van Chancellor

Leave a comment

Filed under women's basketball

Keys to the Game: MBB vs. Furman

Key Moment

If you’re not happy with Act I, be sure to stick around for Act II.

For the second straight night at home, South Carolina turned a close halftime score into a runaway as they defeated the Furman Paladins 81-57 on Monday night. The Gamecocks led 28-26 going into the locker room.

“As crazy as this sounds, I told the guys ‘good job’ at halftime,” said guard Devan Downey. “We were guarding well – we were just a little sluggish on offense.”

Furman managed to narrow the gap to 35-34, but Carolina played with a renewed intensity on defense and surged away on a 21-5 run over the next five and a half minutes to put the game out of reach.

“We played with great effort and eventually when the shots started falling, we were able to get our confidence up and get our offense going,” said Head Coach Darrin Horn. “It was very similar to the Richmond game. I didn’t feel like we played bad defensively. We just didn’t score. But we stuck with the things we need to do to be a good basketball team.”

In that five and a half minute stretch, the Gamecocks pushed their lead out to 56-39 with ten minutes to play in the game.

While the defense created the opportunities, Ramon Galloway provided some firepower to kick start the run. The freshman hit three 3-pointers during the stretch to help stretch Carolina’s lead. Galloway finished the night 4-of-7 from behind the arc and scored a career high 15 points.

“What got the run started was our defense,” Galloway said. “Once we picked up our defense, the shots started falling.”

South Carolina forced 15 second-half turnovers (24 total) and held the Paladins to 33% shooting. The Gamecocks had a season-high 16 steals.

Key Box Score

Total FG-FGA 3 pt FG-FGA FT-FTA Rebs Pts Assts TO Blk Stl Min
G Devan Downey 7-17 0-4 2-2 3 16 8 4 0 7 30

“I think without question that was Devan’s best game of the year,” said Horn. “Tonight was a night where he really made a difference on both ends of the court. He took care of the basketball and had a two-to-one assist to turnover ratio…he took good shots and distributed the ball. He had seven steals, and a lot of those were just being on the ball, being aggressive.”

While the scoring is a positive, Downey continued to emphasize the importance of defense to the team’s future success.

“If we defend, we’re going to be in every ball game,” he said. “We just have to play for forty minutes.”

Key Stats

  • Gamecocks had four players finish in double figures – Downey, Muldrow (16), Jackson (15) and Galloway (15).
  • Three Gamecocks finished the game with career highs in points – Jackson, Galloway and Spinella (5).
  • South Carolina topped its season high for points in the second half with 53 points.
  • Gamecocks tied their season high for turnovers forced with 24 and set a season record with 16 steals.
  • Carolina outscored Furman 38-20 in the paint.
  • The Gamecock bench contributed 30 points to the win while Furman’s bench scored 16.

Key Quote

We’re still trying to find our way – when does it flow for us…offensively, how do we click best? I think that part of it will be a work in progress, but that’s why the defensive end and the effort is so important. If you continue to do that, you’re going to give yourself an opportunity even when shots aren’t going down.”

-Head Coach Darrin Horn

Leave a comment

Filed under Men's Basketball

Keys to the Game: WBB vs. Wake Forest

Key Factor

South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley and her staff knew the key to picking up a second straight win against an ACC opponent would be shutting down Wake Forest’s Brittany Waters and Sandra Garcia.

Waters entered the game averaging 19.9 points per game while Garcia was averaging close to a double-double (10.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game).

“We made a conscious effort to cut Brittany Waters and Sandra Garcia’s production in half,” said Staley.

That effort paid off in South Carolina’s 62-52 win against Wake Forest on Thursday night at Colonial Life Arena.

Neither player ever got comfortable on the offensive end as they combined for just 4 points on 2-of-17 shooting. Wake Forest shot 29% from the floor and were 7-of-32 (22%) from behind the arc.

“In practice, we emphasized stopping the ball, transition D and cutting down their two leading scorers and I think we did a good job of executing the game plan tonight,” said guard La’Keisha Sutton.

The Gamecocks held Wake nearly ten points below their season average. The 52 points allowed tied the Gamecocks’ season low (they held High Point to 52 points on Dec. 2).

Staley was pleased with the team’s effort on defense against the Demon Deacons.

“This was one of our better defensive games,” she said. “When the people that aren’t supposed to score are [the ones that have to score], you’re doing your job. Fortunately for us, it wasn’t enough for them to win the game. We certainly made a conscious effort to take their leading scorers out of the game.”

Key Box Score

Total FG-FGA 3 pt FG-FGA FT-FTA Rebs Pts Assts TO Blk Stl Min
G La’Keisha Sutton 5-10 1-1 7-11 3 18 0 3 1 0 37

Sutton led the team in scoring for the first time this season, scoring 18 points and shooting 50% from the field.

“It was a great game for Keisha,” said Staley. “It was one we needed from a coaching and team standpoint and one she needed from a confidence standpoint. I was really proud of the way she defended tonight.”

“My goal this year is to be a defensive stopper,” said Sutton.

Key Stats

  • The win was South Carolina’s fourth straight – a record in the Dawn Staley era.
  • The Gamecocks improved to 6-1 when three players score in double figures. Sutton had 18, Valerie Nainima scored 13 and Kelsey Bone added 11.
  • Bone recorded her third double-double of the season, adding 13 rebounds to her 11 points.
  • Ieasia Walker scored a career high 7 points. Her previous high was 6 points against Oklahoma on Nov. 26.
  • South Carolina tied their season high for turnovers with 24. The Gamecocks turned the ball over 24 times against San Diego State and Charlotte.
  • The Gamecocks outscored the Deacons 28-16 in the paint.

Key Quote

It’s never about scoring. I could score 20 points or 2 points. As long as we win, that’s all that matters.”

-Guard La’Keisha Sutton

Leave a comment

Filed under women's basketball

Keys to the Game: MBB vs. Richmond

Key Moment

The Gamecocks exploded out of the locker room at the start of the second half on a 21-6 run to take a 45-38 lead with under 14 minutes to play. But the lead wasn’t enough as Richmond would battle back to tie the game at 52 at the 8:03 mark.

That’s when it turned from potential nailbaiter to rout.

South Carolina turned back up the defensive heat in the game’s final eight minutes, outscoring the Spiders 24-6 to cruise to a 76-58 win at Colonial Life Arena on Wednesday night.

“Our defense sparked everything,” said freshman Ramon Galloway. “It was defense that started our run.”

Richmond shot 2 of 9 and turned the ball over four times during the stretch. Downey scored 8 of his 18 total points and Galloway and Johndre Jefferson added 11 points combined in the run to put away the Spiders.

“[Richmond] had beaten some good teams, so we knew we just had to stick together on defense,” said senior Devan Downey.

“It got double digits in a hurry. It was great to be able to make a run,” said Head Coach Darrin Horn. “You do that by making shots and getting to the glass and defensively getting some stops.”

Key Box Score

Total FG-FGA 3 pt FG-FGA FT-FTA Rebs Pts Assts TO Blk Stl Min
F Johndre Jefferson 5-8 0-0 2-2 8 12 0 0 3 2 24

The freshman finished the game with his best box score of the season, picking up career highs in points, field goals, rebounds, steals and minutes played.

“Johndre was terrific tonight. I thought he was outstanding,” said Horn. “He brought us a lot off the bench on both ends of the floor.”

“Johndre had his coming out game tonight,” said Downey.

Key Stats

  • The Gamecocks had their lowest point output of the season in the first half (24 points), but followed that up with their highest point output of the season in a second half (52).
  • South Carolina had 11 blocks, one shy of their season high. The Gamecocks recorded 12 blocks against Georgia Southern.
  • The team tied their season high for rebounds in a game with 45.
  • The Gamecocks outscored Richmond 24-4 in points off the bench.

Key Quote

“You go down our stat sheet and look at how the game went – every guy did what they could do tonight. When we do that, even with two guys out, we got a chance to play with anybody.”

-Head Coach Darrin Horn

Leave a comment

Filed under Men's Basketball

Keys to the Game: WBB vs. N.C. State

Key Play

Leading just 71-68 with under a minute to go, the Gamecocks needed a big shot to put away the N.C. State Wolfpack.

They got one in a big way from junior Samone Kennedy.

With the shot clock ticking down, the point guard drilled a three-pointer with 19 seconds left to give South Carolina a 74-68 lead that secured the win for the Gamecocks.

“I just remember watching the ball fly out of my hands,” said Kennedy. “I was thinking to myself, [Coach Dawn Staley] just said it’s time to score and if I miss this shot, I’m going to hear it big-time.”

Coach Staley’s response?

“She didn’t say anything at first. I just heard all of the assistant coaches saying ‘good shot,’ and she was looking away,” said Kennedy. “I looked at her and said ‘Coach, you know you want to give me a five on that one, you know you want to.’ She gave me a five and I gave the bench a five – it was just a really good feeling out there.”

“I was really happy for her, I wanted her to get a shot up,” said Staley. “I told her the basketball gods were on her side this time because she’s been working extremely hard for her basketball team and I’m just happy that good things are happening for her.”

Kennedy finished the game with a season-high 18 points with four assists and just one turnover.

Staley talked after the game about Kennedy’s growth at the point guard position.

“She’s made a conscious effort wanting to run our team this year better than she did last year,” said Staley. “She’s a warrior.”

Key Box Score

Total FG-FGA 3 pt FG-FGA FT-FTA Rebs Pts Assts TO Blk Stl Min
G Valerie Nainima 12-25 3-7 0-1 5 27 0 3 1 2 38

The junior guard had a career afternoon, scoring 27 points to lead all scorers. Her previous high was 22 points against Charlotte on Nov. 16. Nainima had career highs in points, field goals, field goal attempts and rebounds.

“After the first few shots, everything started hitting,” said Nainima. “We’re playing tit-for-tat with them and I was going to let them take over. I just wanted us to be in a good position to win the game.”

Key Stats

  • The Gamecocks improved their record to 5-1 when three players (Nainima 27, Kennedy 18 and Bone 10) score in double figures.
  • Nainima set the pace in scoring for a team-high fourth time this season. The Gamecocks are now 3-1 when she is the leading scorer.
  • South Carolina forced 22 turnovers. The Gamecocks scored 28 points off Wolfpack turnovers.
  • South Carolina was within 2 points of tying its season high for points scored off turnovers (season high is 30 vs. Clemson).
  • The Gamecocks had their best offensive output in regulation play this season, scoring 74 points. Their season high in a game is 92 points which came in double overtime against Clemson.

Key Quote

“She’s a warrior – you want to be in the foxhole with Samone Kennedy.” – Head Coach Dawn Staley

Leave a comment

Filed under women's basketball

SC vs. Jacksonville: Keys to the Game

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:

Devan Downey 12-18 2-3 8-9 2 34 1 5 0 32
Ben Smith 8-14 2-4 13-15 4 31 7 2 4 35

Notable Stats

  • 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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Men's Basketball