Jan. 9, 2004
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The South Carolina Gamecocks look to begin the 2004 SEC season on a positive note Sunday as USC travels to Tuscaloosa to meet the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Game time is set for 3:00 p.m. ET.
USC has captured the last three SEC season openers and holds a 3-3 SEC opening mark under head coach Susan Walvius. This is the first road SEC opener for the Gamecocks since the 1999-2000 season when they opened the conference schedule at Auburn.
South Carolina (8-4) has lost three consecutive games for the first time in three years (2000-01) and will try to get back into the win column today. After a season-opening loss at Clemson, USC put together an eight-game winning streak until falling to 15th-ranked North Carolina on December 20th. After a 10-day holiday break, the Gamecocks lost on the road at Seton Hall and fell to sixth-ranked Minnesota, 63-53, on national television last Saturday.
The Gamecock scoring attack is led by four players averaging in double figures. Senior Cristina Ciocan leads the team with an average of 15.4 points per game. Freshman Iva Sliskovic is second at 13.7 with Kelly Morrone third at 12.8 points per contest. Sophomore Olga Gritsaeva is fourth in scoring (10.1 ppg) but has been hampered by a stress fracture in her right leg over the last month. Sliskovic paces the team’s rebounding efforts with 7.3 boards per game. Ciocan is only 22 assists away becoming South Carolina’s alltime career leader.
Alabama enters today’s game with an 8-5 mark after Thursday night’s overtime loss at Middle Tennessee, 65-61. The Crimson Tide scoring was led by three players in double figures; Lauren Hill – 12 points, Monique Bivins – 11 points and Katie Sipe – 10 points. Dee merriweather grabbed 12 boards in the loss.
Junior Monique Bivins paces the team in scoring with an average of 12.3 points per game while Dee Merriweather sits atop the Crimson Tide rebounding with 8.2 per game.
Alabama leads the series by a 12-6 mark but the Gamecocks have captured the last three games after an 11-game losing streak.
The Gamecocks return home next week for two contests at the Colonial Center. On Thursday, USC hosts fifth-ranked Tennessee at 7:00 p.m. All tickets are $1. Arkansas visits the Colonial Center on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.