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March 18, 2007

Box Score | Quotes | Notes

Columbia, S.C. – The South Carolina women’s basketball team routed Hartford, 81-40, in the second round of the Women’s NIT Sunday at the Colonial Center. Melanie Johnson led the Gamecocks with 18 points as South Carolina won its first postseason tournament game since the 2002-03 team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

With the win, the Gamecocks improve to 18-14 on the year. The 18 wins marks the third-highest win total for South Carolina since the Gamecocks joined the SEC for the 1991-92 season. Hartford ends its season at 25-9.

Lauren Simms added 10 points for the Gamecocks in a game where 12 of 13 eligible players scored for Carolina. Lea Fabbri dished out nine assists for South Carolina, her second-highest total of the season. MaryLynne Schaefer led the Hawks with 15 points on 5-for-12 shooting, all of which came from three-point range.

South Carolina converted on 34-of-55 from the field Sunday (.618 percent), marking the sixth-highest field goal percentage in school history and the highest ever at the Colonial Center. The Gamecocks held a 42-32 rebounding edge and dished out 23 assists to Hartford’s 11.

The Gamecocks held a 29-0 edge in fast break points.

South Carolina came out firing on all cylinders, scoring on six of their first seven possessions and starting the game 6-for-6 from the field to take an early 12-5 lead. Hartford came within two, 12-10, with 13:54 remaining in the half but was held scoreless over the next eight minutes and 34 seconds as the Gamecocks surged on a 20-0 run, capped by a put back layup by Kellindra Zackery with 5:47 remaining in the half.

Nine Gamecocks scored in the opening stanza as Carolina hit 19-of-29 shots from the field, a .655 clip, en route to a 40-19 halftime lead. The 40 points allowed in the half was the most Hartford allowed in the first half of a game this season. The Hawks had difficulties on the offensive end, hitting only 22 percent of their shots (8-of-37).

Hartford, regular season champions of the America East conference, entered the game with the nation’s No. 3 scoring defense (52.4 ppg) and No. 13 field goal percentage defense (.355 percent). The Gamecocks were only the second team to post over 70 points on the Hawks this season.

Junior Lakesha Tolliver continued to close in on the single-season blocked shots list after collecting three blocks against the Hawks, all in a 60-second span midway through the first half. Tolliver has 57 blocks on the year, second to Teresa Geter’s 58 rejections in the 2000-01 season.

The Gamecocks host Hofstra, a 64-52 winner over Seton Hall in the second round, at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Colonial Center.