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Nov. 14, 2008

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Last Time Out
South Carolina got double-digit scoring output from five players, including a double-double from senior Demetress Adams en route to a 78-69 victory over Peach State Elite in exhibition play last Thursday. The Gamecocks trailed by one point at halftime but a 10-point, 13-rebound second half for Adams helped Carolina out-score its opponent by 10 points in the final 20 minutes. Senior Brionna Dickerson added 16 points while freshmen LaKeisha Sutton, Miranda Tate and Sada Wheeler each added 10 points.

Series Notes
The series is tied 3-3, but Penn State has won all three contests in this decade. The Lady Lions battled to a 70-63 win over South Carolina on Nov. 20, 2007, with a 10-0 run late in the game, which broke a 54-54 tie at the 3:38 mark. The Gamecocks’ last victory over Penn State came on Jan. 18, 1983, in Columbia. South Carolina is 2-2 against Penn State in State College with its last road win over the Lady Lions coming on a 77-76 decision on Feb. 15, 1982. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley has never coached against the Lady Lions.

New Dawn
Head coach Dawn Staley is in her first season with the Gamecocks following an eight-year run at Temple. She helped her hometown Owls to six NCAA Tournament appearances, four Atlantic 10 Tournament titles and the program’s first national ranking. She compiled a 172-80 record (.683) and amassed six seasons of 20 or more wins.

The Gold Standard
While head coach Dawn Staley has become synonymous with Olympic gold, the entire South Carolina coaching staff boasts a wealth of experience and achievement. Including assistant coaches Lisa Boyer, Carla McGhee and Nikki McCray, the Gamecock women’s basketball staff has combined for 39 years of coaching experience, 29 years of playing professionally in the United States, seven Olympic gold medals and two NCAA National Championships.

A South Carolina Win Would …
• Be head coach Dawn Staley’s first win as the Gamecocks’ head coach.
• Be the program’s fourth-straight victory in a season opener.
• End a three-game losing streak to the Lady Lions and be the program’s first win over Penn State in 15 years.
• Make Dawn Staley the fifth-straight Gamecock head coach to win her Garnet and Black debut.
• Snap a three-game losing streak to Big Ten teams. The Gamecocks’ last win over a Big Ten squad was a 79-61 victory over then-No. 14 Minnesota on Dec. 13, 2005.

For Starters
South Carolina has a 24-10 record in season openers since women’s basketball became a varsity sport in 1974-75, including season-opening wins the last three seasons. Opening the season on the road for the first time since the 2004-05 season, the Gamecocks are 14-8 in season openers played outside of Columbia. South Carolina’s last road win in a season opener was a 78-51 decision at Florida A&M on Nov. 13, 1998. Gamecock head coach Dawn Staley is 7-1 in season openers coming into today’s game. Her lone loss was on Nov. 9, 2001, when Evansville topped her Temple squad 76-70. Staley won the first game of her head coaching career when Temple knocked off in-state rival Lehigh 89-55 on Nov. 17, 2000.

First on the Bench
The University named Dawn Staley its seventh head women’s basketball coach last spring, and Staley will look to become the fifth-straight Gamecock mentor to win her Garnet and Black debut. Below are the Gamecock debuts of the other six South Carolina head coaches, beginning with the most recent:
• Susan Walvius – W, 77-61 at Appalachian State, Nov. 19, 1997
• Nancy Wilson – W, 59-50 at South Carolina State, Nov. 29, 1984
• Terry Kelly – W, 50-48 at Saint Joseph’s, Jan. 2, 1982 (named head coach seven games into 81-82 season)
• Pam Parsons – W, 74-59 at Georgia Southern, Dec. 3, 1977
• Frankie Porter – L, 64-70 vs. South Carolina State, Dec. 2, 1975
• Pam Backhaus – L, 60-99 vs. Anderson, Dec. 2, 1974

Preseason Plaudits
South Carolina senior Demetress Adams earned a spot the Preseason All-SEC Second Team earlier this month. Adams was a second-team all-conference selection by both the coaches and the media in 2007-08 after averaging 10.9 points and 8.9 rebounds.

It’s a Block Party!
After recording 55 blocked shots in 2007-08, the third-most in school history, senior Demetress Adams looks to continue her charge up the Gamecocks’ career blocked shots list. She needs just 14 to meet former teammate Ilona Burgrova’s 133 in third place.
Career Blocked Shots
1. 177 Lakesha Tolliver (2004-08)
2. 148 Michelle Murray (1989-93)
3. 133 Ilona Burgrova (2004-08)
4. 119 Demetress Adams (2005-present)

Definitive Demetress
Senior Demetress Adams has recorded 12 career double-doubles, including eight last season, and the Gamecocks are 11-1 in those games. Carolina suffered its first loss in a game where Adams reached double figures in points and rebounds at No. 8 LSU on Jan. 31, 2008.

New Foes
After playing six first-time opponents last season, the Gamecocks will face just two unfamiliar foes in 2008-09 – Stanford and USC Upstate. South Carolina was 4-2 against its first-time opponents last season and is 50-17 in its first meeting with a non-SEC opponent since joining the league in 1991-92.

The Adams Family
Senior Demetress Adams (Bishopville, S.C./Lee Central) was named to the Preseason All-SEC second team by the league’s coaches … is the Gamecocks’ most experienced post player after collecting 10.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season … scored 14 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in the exhibition game against Peach State Elite with all but four points and three rebounds coming in the second half.

What Do You Serve With Brie?
Senior Brionna Dickerson (Columbia, S.C./Heathwood Hall) is the Gamecocks’ veteran in the backcourt with 80 games, including 28 starts, under her belt … averaged 10.4 points on 32.8 percent 3-point shooting last season … led the team with 16 points in the exhibition against Peach State Elite, playing a team-high 38 minutes.

My Friends Call Me Cocoa
Sophomore Lauren Falohun (Atlanta, Ga./Pace Academy) has thrived under head coach Dawn Staley, going from rarely-used sub to a spot in the starting lineup in the exhibition against Peach State Elite … played in 14 games last season, adding 0.1 points and 0.9 rebounds per game.

The Kennedy Legacy
Sophomore Samone Kennedy (Birmingham, Ala./Ramsay) was a spark off the bench last season, playing in 31 games … led the team and ranked 10th in the SEC with 106 assists last season, third-most by a freshman in school history … handed out a game-high four assists in just 17 minutes in the exhibition against Peach State Elite.

Jewel of the Nile
Sophomore Jewel May (Conyers, Ga./Heritage) came off the bench in 28 of the team’s 32 games last season and will have to play a much bigger role this year as one of just two returning post players … averaged 3.5 points and 2.3 rebounds last season … scored seven points and snagged six rebounds in just 10 minutes of action in the exhibition against Peach State Elite.

A Newton of Force
Redshirt freshman Courtney Newton (Flowery Branch, Ga./Flowery Branch) will miss at least one more week with a right knee injury after taking a redshirt in 2007-08 following season-ending surgery on her left knee five games into the season … should provide outside shooting punch as she hit 33.3 percent from outside the arc in five games last season, including a 3-for-7 outing against Buffalo.

Set the Pace
Senior C.J. Pace (Snellville, Ga./Chipola College) is back after missing all but one game of the 2007-08 SEC schedule … averaged 3.4 points and 2.4 rebounds per game last season … played 28 minutes in the exhibition against Peach State Elite, grabbing four rebounds.

CSI: Columbia
Freshman Charenee Stephens (Decatur, Ga./Southwest DeKalb) will not play in any games for an undetermined period of time for personal reasons … was tabbed as the fifth-best forward in the 2008 class by and the 33rd-best player in the class by

Jersey Girl
Freshman LaKeisha Sutton (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) drew a starting spot in the exhibition game against Peach State Elite and poured in 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting, which included a number of driving layups … was named Player of the Year by both the Trenton Times and the Trentonian her senior year after scoring 19.6 points per game … was named MVP of the 2008 New Jersey State Championship after leading her team to its second-straight title.

Miranda Rights
Freshman Miranda Tate (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) scored 10 points and handed out two assists in the exhibition game against Peach State, playing 28 minutes of the bench … was an all-state selection her junior year before sitting out her senior year for personal reasons.

Wheeler Dealer
Freshman Sada Wheeler (Gainesville, Ga./East Hall) netted 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting and grabbed five rebounds in just 11 minutes of the exhibition against Peach State Elite … was the Gainesville Times AAA Player of the Year as a junior after helping her team to a 31-1 record and the AAA state championship.

T Time
Freshman Tonia Williams (Warner Robins, Ga./Houston County) helped her high school team to three straight regional championships, earning Class 5A Player of the Year and all-state honors.