Oct. 1, 2002
After advancing to the Elite Eight in the 2002 NCAA Tournament, the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team will host the first event in the state-of-the art Carolina Center on Friday, November 22nd when instate rival Clemson comes to Columbia.
“We are very excited about hosting the very first event in the new Carolina Center,” said USC head coach Susan Walvius. “It’s even more special to open the 2002-2003 season against Clemson. Last season, our team received so much support from the fans and their enthusiasm definitely gave us the home-court advantage in the first-and-second rounds of the NCAA Tournament. We wanted to open the 2002-2003 season against Clemson, bring fans into the brand-new Carolina Center and continue building support for the South Carolina women’s basketball program. This is one of the most difficult schedules we’ve attempted but the tough non-conference competition will prepare us to play in the SEC.”
The Gamecocks play 27 regular season games in 2002-2003, and in addition to the opener against Clemson, South Carolina will host 15 other regular home games in the Carolina Center, including seven SEC battles. USC will face 13 teams who advanced into postseason play last season, 11 of which were selected for the NCAA Tournament.
South Carolina begins its 29th season of women’s basketball with a pair of exhibition games in the Carolina Coliseum while the final touches are applied to the Carolina Center. The Gamecocks hold an impressive 216-88 regular-season record in the Coliseum (71.1%) after moving into the facility full-time for the 1978-79 season.
After hosting Clemson and the College of Charleston on Friday, November 22nd and Sunday, November 24th, the Gamecocks travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands over the Thanksgiving break to face WNIT Champion Oregon and perennial Big East power, Boston College.
The team returns to host four consecutive home December contests before travelling to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for the 2002 ACC-SEC Beach Ball Classic on Friday, December 20th. Last year, the SEC came out on top as the Gamecocks defeated the Tar Heels by 32 points, 85-53.
South Carolina makes a first-ever trip to Philadelphia after Christmas to meet the Temple Owls, led by head coach Dawn Staley, who plays for the Charlotte Sting during the summer. In the first meeting between the schools last year, South Carolina escaped with a 68-65 victory. Last March, Staley led Temple to its first Atlantic 10 title and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, its first visit since 1989.
USC returns home for three non-conference home battles before the 2003 SEC season begins on Thursday, January 9th when the Mississippi State Bulldogs visit the Carolina Center. The Gamecocks finished second in the SEC regular season standings last season, the best finish ever by the South Carolina women’s basketball team.
Continuing with the SEC schedule, South Carolina plays host to Georgia (Jan. 19), Florida (Jan. 30), LSU (Feb. 6), Arkansas (Feb. 16), Auburn (Feb. 23) and Kentucky on Senior Day, Feb. 27. The Gamecocks face a demanding conference travel schedule with road trips to Arkansas (Jan. 12), Vanderbilt (Jan. 16), Tennessee (Jan. 23), Kentucky (Feb. 2), Alabama (Feb. 9), Georgia (Feb. 13), and to Mississippi (March 2) to finish the season.
The 2003 SEC Tournament will be held in Little Rock, Arkansas, and will run Thursday, March 6th through Sunday, March 9th at the Alltel Arena.