Dec. 19, 2003
For the fourth consecutive year, the two “Carolina’s” battle Saturday in the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Game time is 3:00 p.m. in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
South Carolina is riding an eight-game winning streak entering today’s game against the #15/14th ranked Tar Heels. This is USC’s first ranked opponent of the season while the Gamecocks will be the one of only two teams North Carolina has faced so far with an RPI lower than 75 (Old Dominion, #17).
South Carolina is fourth in the nation in scoring with an average of 86.2 points per contest. The Gamecock offensive attack features four players in double figures. USC is led by All-America candidate Cristina Ciocan who is averaging 17.8 points per game and leads the nation in assists with 9.9 per game. The senior from Romania recorded a career-high 33 points at Charlotte last week and notched a school-record 18 assists against Florida A&M in November.
Senior team captain Kelly Morrone is second on the team in scoring with an average of 15 points per game. The New York native is a quick point-producer from behind the arc with the country’s 11th best average of 3.6 treys per game.
With the Gamecock backcourt led by Ciocan and Morrone, the frontline features two 6-4 underclassmen who are patrolling the paint for South Carolina so far this season. In just nine collegiate games, freshman Iva Sliskovic has already scored in double figures in six games and has recorded three double-doubles with an average of 7.9 rebounds a game. Her partner in the post, sophomore Olga Gritsaeva is fourth on the team in scoring (behind Sliskovic) at 13.0 ppg and leads the team with 8.7 boards per contest.
In the previous three match-ups, the Tar Heels have captured the even year games (2000,74-68 and 2002, 78-69) while South Carolina was victorious in the one odd year, (2001, 85-53).
North Carolina also enters today’s game with an 8-1 record after defeating Western Michigan on Wednesday night, 81-52. The Tar Heels boast victories over Wofford, SC State, Tenn.-Martin, UMBC, Kentucky, Hofstra and St. Francis this season, with only a loss at Old Dominion on December 7th,73-68, blemishing their record.
UNC is paced by five players in double figures with freshman Ivory Latta leading the way at 12.8 ppg. Fellow freshman Camille Little is second in scoring at 12.6 points per game and first in rebounding at 8.1 boards per contest. The two freshmen have captured three of the four ACC’s “Rookie of the Week” awards already this season.