Nov. 30, 2011
CINCINNATI – South Carolina picked up its third road win of the season with a 67-56 win at Xavier Wednesday night. Senior Markeshia Grant led four Gamecocks in double figures with a career-high 18 points, while freshman Aleighsa Welch was solid underneath with eight rebounds. The Gamecocks shot a season-high 44.9 percent and turned 23 Xavier turnovers into 26 points to improve to 6-1 on the season.
The Gamecocks got the offense going early behind Grant who scored eight of the team’s first 10 points for a 10-2 lead just three minutes into the game. The rest of the team followed her lead with relentless drives to the basket that had the Musketeers wrong-footed throughout the half.
After Xavier put together a 7-0 run to get back within one with 15:30 left in the half, the Gamecocks scored the next 10 points of the game, capitalizing on six straight Musketeer turnovers. Freshman Aleighsa Welch hit a free throw and a driving layup for a 13-9 edge, and La’Keisha Sutton drove the lane and pulled up for a jumper for two more. Sancheon White picked up a steal and drove home for the layup, and Welch hit another free throw moments later. Ashley Bruner capped the score-doubling surge with a drive through the lane, putting the Gamecocks up 20-10 with 9:13 left in the half.
Xavier cut down on its miscues in the second half of the first period, but the Gamecocks kept up the offensive pressure, which yielded a steady parade to the free throw line, led by Welch as she was particularly assertive going to the basket. In the waning moments, Xavier’s Sabrina Johnson pulled her team within 10 at 20-30 with a bucket on a baseline out-of-bounds play, but the Gamecocks closed the half in a rush. Sutton hit a free throw, and White converted a traditional three-point play to send South Carolina into the locker room with a 34-20 advantage.
The Gamecocks struggled out of the break, allowing the Musketeers to get within 31-38 behind Tyeasha Moss’ five points. Grant went back to work, though, hitting her second 3-pointer of the half and following that with a mid-range jumper from the left side to stretch South Carolina’s advantage to 45-33 with 12:22 on the clock. Xavier twice drew within nine points, but the Gamecocks would not allow the Musketeers any closer.
Grant’s 18 points led all scorers and was followed closely by Welch’s career-high 16 points. Six of Welch’s game-high eight rebounds came on the offensive end. Sutton and White each added 10 points to the Gamecock offense, which again got a bulk of its scoring (39 points) from the bench.
South Carolina continues on the road this weekend, traveling to Raleigh, N.C., to take on NC State on Sun., Dec. 4, before returning to Colonial Life Arena on Sun., Dec. 11, to host Furman.