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Dec. 29, 2009

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PHILADELPHIA – South Carolina’s 13-0 run to close the first half shut the door on a scrappy Brown team, and the Gamecocks rolled to a 73-46 victory this afternoon in the consolation game of the Saint Joseph’s Hawk Classic at Hagan Arena. Junior Valerie Nainima paced the diverse offense for the Gamecocks (7-5) with 17 points to earn a spot on the All-Tournament team, while sophomore Charenee Stephens added 15 to go with eight rebounds in just 16 minutes of play.

Brown was on the offensive early in the game, forging a handful of leads inside three points each. The Gamecocks finally found their shooting range in the half’s final three minutes as Nainima’s 3-pointer from the left baseline with 2:43 on the clock extended South Carolina’s lead beyond five points for the first time in the game. Stephens snagged one of her six offensive rebounds in the period and stuck it back for a 33-24 margin, and Ieasia Walker broke free for a layup after Stephens’ steal on the other end. Samone Kennedy converted a traditional three-point play, and Kelsey Bone put back an offensive rebound to stretch the lead to 16 points going into halftime.

After closing the first half on the 13-0 run, South Carolina opened the second period with an 11-0 spurt by limiting the Bears to one difficult shot on each of their possessions in the half’s first four minutes. The guards – Nainima, Kennedy and La’Keisha Sutton – did the bulk of the scoring, with Sutton capping the run with a 3-pointer from the left baseline.

The Gamecocks shot 52 percent from the field in the second half, while limiting Brown to just 23.1 percent in the final 20 minutes. South Carolina dominated the box score, putting up 38 points in the paint to Brown’s 38 and generating 22 second-chance points to the Bears’ eight. The Gamecocks out-rebounded the Bears 53-33 with Bone leading the way with 12 boards – her third-straight game with double-digit rebounds.

South Carolina returns home this weekend to open its SEC schedule against No. 11/12 LSU on Sun., Jan. 3, at 6 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.