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Nov. 20, 2010

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Game Information

Date: Sunday, November 21, 2010
Time: 3:30 p.m. Location: University Park, Pa.
Arena: Bryce Jordan Center
Penn State Series: Tied 4-4; In Univ. Park: PSU leads 3-2; In Columbia: SC leads 2-1; Neutral Site: Never Met
Radio: WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller);
Television: Big Ten Network (Dan Kelly and Patricia Babcock-McGraw)
Live Stats:

South Carolina Notables

  • This is the Gamecocks’ 36th season as a varsity sport.
  • South Carolina is fifth in the SEC with a +6.0 rebounding margin.
  • Sophomore Ieasia Walker’s 30-point game against Clemson was the Gamecocks’ first in regulation time since Jan. 22, 2009.
  • Samone Kennedy will be out at least one more week with a toe injury (right foot).
  • SEC coaches picked the Gamecocks to finish seventh in their annual preseason poll, matching the media’s preseason selection. South Carolina closed out the 2009-10 campaign tied for seventh with a 7-9 league record.


A South Carolina Win Would…

  • Bring head coach Dawn Staley within one of her 200th career coaching victory.
  • Give the Gamecocks a 3-1 record to open the season, their best under Coach Staley and matching the start of the 2007-08 squad.
  • Be its second straight over Penn State.

Scouting Penn State
The Lady Lions are 3-0 this season, including a pair of overtime road wins. All the extra time has helped Penn State average 101.0 points per game, and 51.5 percent 3-point shooting (34-66) hasn’t hurt either. The squad returns three starters from last year’s WNIT squad, including third-team All-Big Ten selection Alex Bentley, the Lady Lions’ sophomore point guard. Four Penn Staters average double-figure points, led by junior guard Zhaque Gray’s 21.7 per game. Bentley is not far behind with 18.0 ppg, and freshman Maggie Lucas and sophomore Mia Nickson round out the quartet with 15.7 and 11.0 ppg, respectively. With a notable height advantage, the Lady Lions have out-rebounded their opponents by 5.0 boards per game, led by senior Julia Trogele’s 9.0 per game. In addition to being the team’s second-leading scorer, Bentley leads Penn State with 7.3 assists per game. Head coach Coquese Washington is in her fourth season at Penn State, guiding the lady Lions to a 44-50 record.

Penn State Series Notes
The series is tied 4-4 but the Lady Lions have dominated the recent history. South Carolina last season’s contest 63-56 at Colonial Life Arena, but Penn State had rolled up the previous four matchups. after the Gamecocks had opened the series, which started in 1980, with three straight victories. In last year’s contest on Nov. 22, neither team’s offense could find a rhythm as the Gamecocks just edged the Lady Lions in shooting percentage .302 to .286. Penn State’s three starting guards – Tyra Grant, Zhaque Gray and Alex Bentley – scored in double figures, but the Gamecocks held the Lady Lion bench to just 12 points. For South Carolina, Valerie Nainima netted 18 points and Charenee Stephens poured in 17 along with 11 rebounds for just her second career double-double. The Gamecocks are 2-3 against the Lady Lions in University Park, including an 0-3 mark at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Gamecocks’ Last Time Out…
Sophomore Ieasia Walker shone the brightest, but it was a full team effort that delivered a 73-59 South Carolina win over archrival Clemson Thursday night. A defense-inspired 15-4 offensive surge midway through the first half, including 11 points from Walker, helped build a 10-point lead at the break, and the Gamecocks never looked back.

30 is the New 18
Sophomore Ieasia Walker entered Thursday’s game against Penn State with the cautious optimism of a 12-point outing against Illinois, which was beginning to erase the bad taste left by a 1-of-10 outing in the season opener. She closed the 2009-10 regular-season with a career-high 18 points and, after a hard-pounding offseason, was primed to step up her contributions both in scoring and in quarterbacking the team both offensively and defensively. Against Clemson, Walker found her groove early, turning a steal into a routine layup 105 seconds into the contest. Thirty seconds later, she converted another turnover into a pull-up jumper. From there, Walker was off to the races, matching her previous career high of 18 point by halftime en route to a 30-point night. She became the first Gamecock to net 30 points since last season’s double-overtime game against Clemson and the first to do it in regulation time since Brionna Dickerson netted 31 at Ole Miss on Jan. 22, 2009. The effort, which head coach Dawn Staley had to urge on by convincing her point guard to be more selfish in finding her own shot, helped Walker lift her scoring average to a team-best 15.7 ppg, which ranks 11th in the SEC. Her 13-for-19 shooting raised her shooting percentage from .250 to the SEC’s fifth-best at .462.

Making Music
Junior La’Keisha Sutton’s complete understanding of what the coaching staff wants from the team has been music to head coach Dawn Staley’s ears. Arguably the team’s most dynamic scorer, Sutton can hurt opponents in a variety of ways as evidenced in the team’s first full week of the season. Sutton opened her 2010-11 campaign with a sparkling 19-point, five-assist, three-steal performance against No. 5/6 Xavier. She closed the seven-day stretch with a career-high six rebounds – trying for team-high honors – and three assists against archrival Clemson, truly celebrating her birthday through each basket, regardless of who scored it, that separated the Gamecocks from their in-state rival.

A-B-C Her Play
Sophomore forward Ashley Bruner opened her second season with a pair of double-doubles, marking the second-straight season a Gamecock has accomplished the feat. Bruner’s 17 points and 15 boards against No. 5/6 Xavier were career highs, and she followed that effort with a 11-point, 12-rebound showing against Illinois. Bruner’s stellar start has ranked fourth in the SEC standings with 10.7 rebounds per game. Her 15 rebounds against Xavier are tied for the most by an SEC player so far this season.

She’s a Jewel
Senior Jewel May has started 33 of the team’s last 34 games because of what she brings to the team outside the box score. Quick and athletic on both sides of the ball, May earned praise from head coach Dawn Staley following the Clemson game as an example of what the coaching staff had been preaching about taking good shots. Calm decision-making and poise in the post helped May to a six rebounds, including three offensive, and eight points along with a career-best four steals.

Preseason Props
Junior guard Marah Strickland is set to make her Gamecock debut tonight, but she has already caught the eye of SEC coaches. The group voted her to the Preseason All-SEC Second Team prior to the start of the season despite having not yet played a game in a Gamecock uniform. Strickland sat out the 2009-10 season after transferring from Maryland, where she ranked among the ACC’s elite 3-point shooters in both frequency and percentage. Strickland has been slow on the trigger early this season as she works herself back into the rhythm of game action, hitting just 27.3 percent from long range. That includes an 0-for-3 outing in the season opener. Since then, she has shot 3-of-8 for 37.5 percent.

Granny Knows Best
Junior college transfer Markeshia Grant – better known to her teammates at Granny – is quickly establishing herself among the SEC’s most efficient point guards. Averaging 3.3 assists per game to rank 10th in the league, Grant dished out a team-best four against Clemson against just a single turnover. That type of ball-handling has her rated seventh in the SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.5:1. In her first season under head coach Dawn Staley’s tutelage, Grant has proven to be quite sticky-fingered as well, snapping up 2.0 steals per game, including three against Clemson.

Road Warriors
South Carolina has a 176-222 (.442) all-time record on the road. In non-conference action, that number improves to 120-107 (.529) all-time. The Gamecocks best season on the road was 1979-89 when they went 11-4.

Routing the Rival
In college athletics, little feels better than dismissing an archrival. While this season’s 14-point win over Clemson was the first in head coach Dawn Staley’s tenure, the Gamecocks’ recent history against the Tigers shows that when the state university comes out on top, it does so in a big way. In the last 10 meetings, each team has won five times. But, South Carolina gets the edge in the last decade as its wins have been by an average of 22.4 points compared to Clemson’s 5.8-point advantage in its five victories.

Oh Captain, My Captain
The Gamecocks named three team captains for the 2010-11 season. Seniors Valerie Nainima and Jewel May and junior Marah Strickland earned the nod to lead the team on and off the court this season.