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Nov. 24, 2006

Box Score | Quotes

Columbia, S.C. – The South Carolina women’s basketball team got off to a fast start and never looked back in its 77-30 win over Mercer in the first round of the South Carolina Thanksgiving Classic, played Friday night at the Colonial Center. The Gamecocks improved to 4-1 with the win, while Mercer fell to 0-3 with the loss.

Carolina opened the game with a 20-0 run and held Mercer scoreless until Erin Keller knocked down a pair of free throws at the 10:11 mark. The Gamecocks did not surrender a field goal until the TaShera Lewis knocked down a jumper at the 7:39 mark.

Carolina took a 44-13 lead into the locker room at halftime, holding Mercer to 4-of-22 shooting from the field (.182 pct.) and 0-of-7 shooting from three-point range. The Gamecocks, meanwhile, converted on 17 of their 28 first-half field goal attempts (.607 pct.). Mercer’s 13 first half turnovers matched its first-half scoring total.

It was more of the same to start the second half, as the Gamecocks opened the half on a 16-2 run to open up a 60-15 lead with 11:23 remaining in the game. Lakesha Tolliver finished with a game-high 13 points, with Lauren Simms scoring 12 points and grabbing a season-high six rebounds. Stacy Booker rounded out Carolina’s double-figure performers, scoring 10 points and dishing out three assists. Demetress Adams finished with seven points and 10 rebounds.

Carolina forced Mercer into committing 26 turnovers in the game, marking the fifth time in as many games this season that the Gamecocks have forced the opposition into committing more than 20 turnovers. The Bears’ 30 points ranked as the least for a Carolina opponent since the Gamecocks handed Bethune-Cookman an 87-26 beating at the Colonial Center last year.

Friday’s win extended the Gamecocks’ home winning streak against non-conference opposition to 11 games in a streak that dates back to last season and marked Carolina’s fourth consecutive win over Mercer in the all-time series between the two schools. The win was Carolina’s 18th in a row over a team from the Atlantic Sun Conference.

The Gamecock defense smothered Mercer all game long to continue a trend of improved defense recently, as Carolina limited North Carolina A&T to 36.0 percent shooting from the field and held Clemson to 26.2 percent shooting from the field in its two previous games, respectively.

The Gamecocks return to action when they face Louisiana-Lafayette at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the championship game of the South Carolina Thanksgiving Classic. The game will be broadcast live on WISW 1320 AM Radio with Brad Heller handling play-by-play and Robin Muller providing analysis. Mercer will face Bethune-Cookman in the consolation game, set to tip off at 5 p.m.

Louisiana-Lafayette handed Bethune-Cookman an 86-23 beating earlier in the day, fueled largely by forward Yolanda Jones’ 18 points, 12 rebounds and three steals. The Ragin’ Cajuns outscored the Lady Wildcats, 53-9 in the second half and held Bethune-Cookman to 8-of-50 shooting from the field (.160 pct.) for the game.

The Gamecocks won their last meeting with Louisiana-Lafayette, claiming a 72-59 victory over the Ragin’ Cajuns in 2003.