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Dec. 28, 2006

Box Score | Quotes | Notes

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Lauren Simms’ 6-for-6 effort at the free-throw line in the final 1:02 helped preserve a 64-56 victory for the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team Thursday night in Columbia, S.C., against Samford University. The Gamecocks improved to 8-4 on the year, while the Bulldogs dropped to 6-6.

Simms led all scorers with 15 points on 4-of-11 shooting and was a perfect 7-for-7 at the charity stripe. She added a career-high eight rebounds and chipped in three assists and two steals as well. Iva Sliskovic, the reigning SEC Player of the Week, hit double figures in the scoring column for the third-straight game with 12 while adding 11 boards for her second double-double in 2006-07. Melanie Johnson was USC’s other double-digit scorer with 13.

MaKenzie Spruiell topped Samford in scoring with 12 points off the bench. Alex Munday and Taryn Towns each contributed 11, and Towns tallied a game-high five assists.

South Carolina shot 48.9 percent (23-of-47) from the floor and Samford connected at a 40.4 percent (19-of-47) clip. The Gamecocks held a 33-26 rebounding advantage and shot 18-of-23 (.783) from the line, compared to 10-of-19 (.526) for the Bulldogs.

Carolina held a 12-10 advantage with 11:44 remaining in the first half following a free throw by Demetress Adams. Samford grabbed the lead on the next possession with a three by Spruiell, but the Gamecocks countered with a 7-0 run in 2:24.

The Bulldogs were still within three at 24-21 with 2:51 showing on the scoreboard. South Carolina proceeded to go on an 8-0 tear in just 1:33 to go ahead 32-21 with 1:07 to play in the period. The Gamecocks led 32-22 at halftime.

USC opened the second half with a strong shooting effort, going 7-of-10. Sliskovic gave the Gamecocks a 47-32 advantage with an easy layup after 6:38 had ticked off the clock. Over the next 4:50, however, Samford scored nine unanswered points to trim the deficit to six, 47-41. Munday scored six of the nine points for the Bulldogs.

Lakesha Tolliver put South Carolina on top 53-46 with 5:28 to play after a short jumper in the paint. Samford responded and scored the next seven points of the game. Charity tosses from Towns at the 2:32 mark deadlocked the score at 53-all, and a bucket by Munday with just under two minutes to play gave the Bulldogs a 55-54 upper hand.

The Gamecocks regrouped in the final 1:35, outscoring the opposition 10-1. After a field goal by Adams and two free throws by Simms, Johnson came away with a key steal and scored on a fast break to put South Carolina ahead 60-55 with 47 seconds left. Simms recorded USC’s final four points at the free-throw line.

South Carolina next takes on UNC-Wilmington on the road Saturday at 2 p.m. The Gamecocks return home for a New Year’s Day match-up with Winthrop at 7 p.m. in the Colonial Center.