Jan. 11, 2007
Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina led for all but 22.6 seconds against the nation’s 14th ranked team but Vanderbilt led when it mattered most, edging past the Gamecocks, 67-66 Thursday night at the Colonial Center. The Gamecocks fell to 10-7 overall and 0-2 in the SEC while the Commodores improved to 15-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play.
Leading 66-65 with 39 seconds remaining in the game, the Gamecocks committed three turnovers and the Commodores took advantage to take the lead in the final seconds of the game. Iva Sliskovic’s defensive rebound on two missed free throws by Carla Thomas with 29 seconds remaining seemed to seal the deal for Carolina to defeat its first ranked team since upending No. 14 Minnesota last season. However, the Gamecocks turned the ball over once again and Sliskovic fouled Dee Davis on the next play.
Davis sunk both free throws to take the 67-66 lead, giving the Gamecocks a chance to score the final basket, but Vanderbilt rebounded Lakesha Tolliver’s jump shot and called a timeout with one second remaining to edge the win.
Stacy Booker scored 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting to lead the Gamecocks, her fourth time in double figures in the last five games. Booker’s three-pointer to give Carolina a 46-39 second half lead moved her into 10th place on the South Carolina all-time list for three-pointers made.
Lauren Simms was Carolina’s other double-digit scorer with 11 points. Lakesha Tolliver added nine points and a season high nine rebounds in her third start of the season.
Thomas led all scorers with 26 points for Vanderbilt. Caroline Williams and Davis both added 13 points to help lead the Commodores.
Running out to a 14-5 lead to open the game, the Gamecocks held the high scoring Vanderbilt offense in check until the Commodores began focusing on the post game and outside shots by Williams. The Commodores twice closed within two points of the Gamecocks in the opening stanza, led by Thomas’s 12 first half points. Both teams struggled late in the half to make defensive stops until the Gamecocks went on a 9-2 run to increase the lead to 36-27. Thomas began to take command of her team in the final two minutes to cut the deficit to 38-31 at the half.
In the opening minutes of the second half, both teams traded points before Carolina again pushed ahead with an 8-0 run to increase its lead to 54-41 with nine minutes left to play in the game. The Commodores relied on full court pressure to bait the Gamecocks into 27 turnovers, the second-most Carolina giveaways this season. Leading 60-49 with six minutes remaining in the game, the Gamecocks fell victim to a 12-5 Vanderbilt run to close the gap to 65-61 with only a minute and a half remaining.
The Gamecocks committed four turnovers in the final 90 seconds as the Commodores fought back to take the final lead.
Carolina returns to action Sunday afternoon when they host the Alabama Crimson Tide.