Dec. 2, 2009
|Valerie Nainima and Samone Kennedy
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina women’s basketball fought past an early wake up call and a solid opponent to score a 70-52 victory over High Point Wednesday morning at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks (4-3) expanded a three-point halftime lead with an 8-0 surge to open the second period, putting the Panthers (2-3) in a deficit from which they could not recover. South Carolina shot a sizzling 65.2 percent in the second half, helped by 14 second-half fast-break points. Junior guards Valerie Nainima and Samone Kennedy stuffed the stat sheet with 20 and 14 points, respectively, with Kennedy packing on a career-high seven steals as well.
The first half was a battle as neither team could assert itself. The Panthers took the lead early and survived six ties, the last of which came courtesy of a long Nainima jumper at the top of the key to knot the game at 20-20 with 7:48 left in the half. South Carolina built four-point leads four different times before the break, but could not shake the Panthers.
A renewed energy marked the opening of the second period, keyed by relentless drives to the bucket and solid defense by the Gamecocks. La’Keisha Sutton opened the half with a drive, followed by a pair of free throws from Ebony Wilson and two more driving layups from Nainima and Kennedy, which gave South Carolina a 38-27 lead and forced High Point to call a timeout.
The Panthers had more fight in them, twice pulling within six points, but each time they were turned away by the aggressive Kennedy. The Gamecock point guard hounded the Panther guards on defense, forcing many of Erin Reynolds’ nine turnovers, and drove hard to the bucket on offense to stymie any kind of Panther surge.
South Carolina got balanced scoring as Kelsey Bone added 13 points to the effort, while fellow freshmen Ashley Bruner and Ebony Wilson netted seven and eight points, respectively. Bone’s nine rebounds were a game high as the Gamecocks out-boarded the Panthers 42-26.
The Gamecocks take a break for exams, not returning to the court until a Dec. 13 contest against NC State at Colonial Life Arena.