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Nov. 12, 2006

Box Score

Columbia, S.C. – Melanie Johnson scored 23 points, with 19 of those coming in the second half to lift South Carolina to a 78-53 win over East Tennessee State at the Colonial Center Sunday. With the win, the Gamecocks moved to 1-0. East Tennessee State dipped to 0-2.

A preseason second-team all-SEC selection, Johnson single-handedly took control of the game in the second half, going on a 13-0 run by herself midway through the second half to bust the game wide open. Though Johnson did the bulk of the scoring, it was the Gamecocks’ pressure defense all over the floor that created many of Johnson’s opportunities. Johnson’s performance marked the third 20-plus point game of her career.

Lakesha Tolliver added 15 points and seven rebounds with Iva Sliskovic contributing 13 points.

East Tennessee State hung around in the first half, never trailing by more than eight points in the opening stanza despite trailing the Gamecocks by a wide margin on the boards in the early going. In fact, the Lady Bucs caught and passed Carolina when Siarre Evans scored with 4:16 remaining in the half to give ETSU a 24-23 lead. The Lady Bucs did not surrender the lead for the remainder of the half, taking a 32-28 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

East Tennessee State did a good chunk of its damage from the charity stripe and from beyond the arc in the first half, knocking down all 10 of its free throw attempts. Michele DeVault drained three of her seven attempts from three-point range in the first half en route to leading all scorers with 13 points in the opening stanza. Lakesha Tolliver led the Gamecocks with nine points and four rebounds at the half.

It was more of the same to start the second half, as Brooke Wilhoit’s trey at the 17:26 mark extended ETSU’s lead to 39-32. Iva Sliskovic helped narrow the margin with an easy score underneath followed by a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 39-36. Demetress Adams then scored and was fouled, knocking down the free throw to tie the game at 39 with 14:42 remaining.

The teams traded baskets until South Carolina erupted for an 11-0 run sparked by its full-court pressure defense that led to easy opportunities around the basket. The run gave the Gamecocks a 55-45 lead with 9:46 remaining.

The Gamecocks entered Sunday’s game with a 22-10 record all-time in season openers and had won six of the previous nine. Carolina entered the contest with a 24-2 record all-time in games played against teams from the Atlantic Sun Conference and had won 17 consecutive games against Atlantic Sun opposition.

The Gamecocks return to action when they travel to University Park, Pa., to battle Penn State at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Bryce Jordan Center. The game will be broadcast live on WISW 1320 AM Radio with Brad Heller handling play-by-play and Robin Muller providing analysis.