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Nov. 23, 2002

It was an exciting night Friday in the debut game at The Carolina Center.

A 14-point win over Clemson for the Carolina women’s squad … Fans excited not only about the game but over the great amenities in the building …

… and the fifth largest crowd ever to watch a women’s NCAA basketball regular-season game.

The crowd of 17,712 that attended the 72-58 Gamecock victory over Clemson Friday was part of history in the making. The top four spots on the NCAA list all have taken place at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn.; thus, The Carolina Center crowd of 17,712 Friday was the largest ever outside of Knoxville as well.

Here’s a list of the top five crowds in NCAA women’s basketball regular-season history:

1. 24,611 (Jan. 5, 2002) – Connecticut at Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn.
2. 20,956 (Feb. 16, 2002) – Vanderbilt at Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn.
3. 20,573 (Feb. 24, 2002) – Kentucky at Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn.
4. 18,410 (Feb. 7, 2002) – Arkansas at Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn.
5. 17,712 (Nov. 22, 2002) – Clemson at South Carolina, The Carolina Center

The building itself got rave reviews, including some from a pair of Palmetto State columnists in Saturday newspaper editions.

Bob Spear, Sports Editor, The State

“Even the most distant seat (at The Carolina Center) provides a great view, the scoreboard is spectacular and the sound system stirs the soul … Theater-type seats throughout earned thumbs-up acclaim from fans who checked out the nuances of the $70-million facility … They turned on the lights for the public for the first tim Friday night, and a beauty called Carolina Center basked in the adulation on a night to remember.”

Ken Burger, Columnist, Charleston Post & Courier

“In a word, the place (The Carolina Center) is beautiful. After more than three decades in the old coliseum, the Gamecock basketball teams will now play in this new $64 million facility that has winner written all over it. A state-of-the-art facility anchoring the west side of campus and nestled next to the city’s expanding restaurant region known as the Vista, this 18,000-seat basketball arena is more than just a building, it’s a statement.

“This arena is open and airy with wide public spaces that highlight past glories in Gamecock history. With its double-deck design, multimillion-dollar scoreboard and video screens, luxury suites and all the latest accouterments, it is rightly being dubbed as the Crown Jewel of the Midlands.”