Dec. 26, 2009
Boston Univ. Series: 1st Meeting
Brown Series: 1st Meeting
Saint Joseph’s Series: SC leads 2-0; In Philadelphia: SC leads 1-0; In Columbia: Never Met; Neutral Site: SC leads 1-0
Radio: WISW 1320 AM and GamecocksOnline.com (Brad Muller and Marcy Girton)
South Carolina Notables
- This is the program’s 36th season as a varsity sport.
- The Gamecocks are 139-74 all-time in December, including an 81-22 mark at home. This season they are 3-1.
- After averaging 67.5 points through the first six games of the season, South Carolina has scored 72.8 points per game since turning the calendar to December, during which its field goal percentage is up more than 50 points. The Gamecocks’ scoring margin went from -3.2 in November to +5.8 this month, and their rebounding margin went from -3.2 to +6.8 boards per game.
- South Carolina is 90-57 all-time in regular-season tournaments, including a 1-4 record this season. The Gamecocks’ last regular-season tournament title was at the 2009 Cancun Thanksgiving Classic.
The Boston U Series
This is the first meeting.
The Brown Series
It would be the first meeting between the programs. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley holds a 2-0 record over the Bears as her Temple Owls topped Brown 71-37 on Jan. 5, 2007, in Philadelphia after opening the series with a 68-61 road victory on Nov. 19, 2004.
The Saint Joseph’s Series
The Gamecocks lead the series 2-0, although the teams have not met since 1982. South Carolina won that meeting in Philadelphia 50-48 after a 78-56 victory over the Hawks on Jan. 26, 1979, at the Collegiate Doubleheader in Raleigh, N.C. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley holds a 16-4 record over the Atlantic 10 rival of her Temple Owls. Staley won her last matchup against the Hawks 63-60 on Feb. 20, 2008, in Philadelphia, and her teams have won the last five games against Saint Joseph’s.
South Carolina boasts a .653 all-time winning percentage (139-74) in the month of December, supported largely by an 81-22 record (.784) at home. The Gamecocks have been perfect in the final month of the year three times, most recently with a 6-0 record in December 2005. A 79-61 win over then-No. 14 Minnesota kicked off the month-long winning streak. This season, South Carolina is 3-1 with just the Hawk Classic’s two games remaining on the December schedule.
South Carolina is 90-57 all-time in regular-season tournaments, including a 1-4 record in this season’s Paradise Jam. Last season, Gamecocks picked up a pair of wins in the 2009 Cancun Thanksgiving Classic to win that tournament, defeating Ohio and UNC Wilmington.
Three, It’s a Magic Number
The Gamecocks offense has been most effective this season when having a three-pronged attack. South Carolina is 6-2 in games in which three players reach double figures but lost its outing in which four Gamecocks crossed the 10-point plateau. South Carolina’s only losses with three players in double figures were a 93-85 loss to No. 9/10 North Carolina and the 75-67 decision against No. 20/17 Oklahoma.
After winning the battle of the boards just once in its first five games, South Carolina has out-rebounded its opponent in each of the last five outings, including a 16-rebound advantage over High Point and a two-rebound edge over North Carolina, which had been out-rebounding its opponents by 9.9 boards per game. The Gamecocks have gone 4-1 in this stretch of games, during which they are pulling down 39.7 rebounds per contest compared to 38.9 by their opponents.
Our Pal Val
South Carolina guard Valerie Nainima has been the Gamecocks’ leading scorer five times this season, during which the team has a 4-1 record. Nainima has reached the 20-point plateau three times in the last four games, leading the Gamecocks to a pair of wins in those efforts. The lone loss was to No. 9/10 North Carolina, against which Nainima netted 26 points, which included a personal 10-0 run to close the first half, and handed out nine assists. In the month of December, Nainima has scored 21.5 points per game on 45.6 percent field goal shooting, thanks to her relentless driving to the basket. That aggressive style has also helped Nainima tie for the team lead in assists this month, handing out 2.75 per game.
The month of December has been a series of solid efforts from freshman center Kelsey Bone, who is averaging a double-double over the four games this month. Leading the team in rebounding in all four games, she is averaging 10.3 boards during the stretch while pouring in 15.3 points per contest. Her 27 points against No. 9/10 North Carolina led all scorers, and six of her 10 rebounds against the Tar Heels came on the offensive end.
Life in the Fast Lane
With a renewed emphasis on transition defense, South Carolina has scored more fast-break points that its opponents in seven of 10 games this season, despite accumulating more turnovers than its opponent in five of those seven contests. Forcing 20 turnovers against High Point, the Gamecocks poured in 23 fast-break points, the most in the Dawn Staley era of the program. Meanwhile, the Panthers managed to score just four fast-break points on the Gamecock’s 23 turnovers. Against Wake Forest, the Gamecocks committed 24 turnovers, but allowed the Demon Deacons just four fast-break points.
After battling to find court time through the Gamecocks’ first six games of the season, freshman point guard Ieasia Walker has found her way in the final month of the year, especially in the last two games. Playing with new palpable confidence, despite wearing a face mask to protect a broken nose, Walker turned in her most complete game of the season against No. 9/10 North Carolina with 12 points, six rebounds (including three offensive), four assists and four steals in 33 minutes – all season highs. With that effort against the Tar Heels, Walker is averaging 6.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals in the month of December. That output is nearly three times her averages over the team’s first six games this season.