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Dec. 27, 2013

Aleighsa Welch and Olivia Gaines

South Carolina Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Game Information

Opponent: Savannah State
Date: Sunday, December 28, 2013, Noon
Site: Columbia, S.C.
Arena: Colonial Life Arena (18,000)
Tickets: $7 adult, $4 youth (17 and under) Note: Arena will be cleared prior to men’s game starting at 4 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports South (Andy Demetra, Debbie Antonelli)
Radio: WNKT 107.5 FM/WISW 1320 AM (Brad Muller);
Live Stats:
Series History: SC leads 5-0

South Carolina Notables

  • One of the offseason focuses for the South Carolina coaching staff was passing, and the work is paying dividends in assist numbers as the Gamecocks rank 37th in the nation at 16.8 per game. In the previous five seasons under Staley, the highest season average was 11.2 per game. At least 60 percent of made field goals have been assisted in eight of 12 games so far this season.
  • While guard Tiffany Mitchell is the Gamecocks’ leading scorer, South Carolina’s offense is driven by what happens in the paint. The Gamecocks have scored 38.7 points per game in the paint – more than half of their 76.8 scoring average.
  • Four Gamecocks average double figure points so far this season with two others adding at least 7.8 per game, making it the most diversified offense of the Dawn Staley era. The transition occurred while sacrificing little on the defensive end, where, despite Staley feeling her team needs to prove more in that area, the Gamecocks rank third in the nation (2nd in the SEC) by allowing just 49.0 points per game.
  • Junior forward Aleighsa Welch is one of two of the SEC’s top 10 rebounders to also rank among the top 15 scorers.
  • Alaina Coates turned in the best shooting performance ever by a Gamecock freshman, hitting 7-of-7 from the field and 9-of-9 from the free throw line against SC State (Dec. 22). It was the first time a freshman was perfect from both the field and free throw line (min. 5 attempts at each) in school history. She became the third Gamecock to post a perfect shooting night from the floor this season – Elem Ibiam 7-of-7 vs. Charleston Southern (Nov. 8), Aleighsa Welch 6-of-6 vs. NC Central (Dec. 2). Coates’ field goal attempts made her outing against SC State tied for fourth for the best perfect game in Colonial Life Arena history.
  • While Tiffany Mitchell posted her first single-digit scoring game of the season against SC State, the sophomore guard still showed the diversity of her game by tying for team-high rebounding honors (9) and leading the team with four assists. It is her all-around impact on the team that led ESPN’s Graham Hayes to name her one of his “10 Rising to the Occasion.”


A South Carolina Win Would…

  • Give the Gamecocks a 12-1 record for the second time in as many seasons, matching the best non-conference mark under Staley and the 2002-03 mark as the best since the program first joined a conference in 1983-84
  • Be the Gamecocks’ sixth over Savannah State in as many meetings.

By the Numbers
1 Perfect shooting game by a freshman in South Carolina women’s basketball history (min. five FGA and five FTA) – Alaina Coates vs. SC State (Dec. 22) with 7-of-7 from the field and 9-of-9 from the free throw line
2 Players in the SEC who rank among the league’s top 10 in rebounding and top 20 in scoring, including junior forward Aleighsa Welch
2 Gamecocks ranked among the SEC’s top 15 scorers, one of four SEC teams to have multiple entries
3 Gamecocks ranked among the SEC’s top 20 rebounders, one of three SEC teams to have three entries – Kentucky and Tennessee being the other two
3 Games this season in which five Gamecocks have scored in double figures, which had happened just five previous times in the Dawn Staley era
5 Statistical categories in which the Gamecocks rank among the nation’s top five – scoring defense, scoring margin, field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage defense and blocked shots
5 Different Gamecocks who have been the team’s high scorer in a game this season – Alaina Coates (Charleston Southern, at San Diego State, SC State), Aleighsa Welch (LA Tech, at Clemson, vs. UNC), Asia Dozier (CofC), Elem Ibiam (Seton Hall, Charlotte) and Tiffany Mitchell (at USC, NC Central, Winthrop)
6 Individual 20-point games this season by the Gamecock – three by Alaina Coates (CSU, at SDSU), two by Tiffany Mitchell (at USC, Winthrop) and one by Aleighsa Welch (vs. UNC)
6 Games in which South Carolina has shot at least 50.0 percent from the field this season after reaching the mark just 12 times in the previous five seasons under Staley
7 Games this season in which South Carolina has scored at least 50.0 percent of its points in the paint, including scoring 70 of 99 points against Charleston Southern (Nov. 8) inside
8 Opponents who have been held to 55 or fewer points by the Gamecocks this season, helping the Gamecocks rank third in the nation in scoring defense (49.0 ppg)
26 Points allowed to SC State by the Gamecocks (Dec. 22), the third lowest in the Dawn Staley era
26 More rebounds by the Gamecocks than SC State (Dec. 22), the second-highest rebounding margin in the Staley era
62.0 Percent of field goals made this season that have been assisted

Savannah State Series Notes
South Carolina leads the series 5-0, including wins in each of the last three seasons. In last year’s 78-47 victory (Nov. 15), forward Aleighsa Welch recorded her first career double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Then-freshman Asia Dozier posted her first career double-digit point game with 11, including three 3-pointers.

Five-Second Count
For the first time in her tenure at South Carolina, head coach Dawn’s Staley’s Gamecocks look different – on the court and in the box score. After seasons of building around defense, Staley finally as a group that is designed for offensive efficiency. The Gamecocks are scoring more (77.5 ppg – 6th in SEC, 48th in nation) and more efficiently (.491 FG %age – 2nd in SEC, 6th in country) than at any time in the Staley era. And, after seasons of talented guards generating their own offense, Staley’s 2013-14 success is predicated on getting the ball inside – three primary post players combine to score 47.5 percent of the team’s points – and on ball movement creating the best shots as 62.0 percent of made field goals have been assisted, ranking the Gamecocks sixth in the SEC and 37th in the nation with 16.8 assists per game. Defense is still a staple of the program with the Gamecocks ranking third in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 49.0 points per game. Only four opponents this season have scored 55 or more points against South Carolina.

December Decisions
In its 40th season of women’s basketball, South Carolina is 159-79 (.668) all-time in the month of December, including a 27-7 record (.794) in the sixth season of the Dawn Staley era. The Gamecocks hold at least a .500 record in all three site possibilities during the month – 96-23 (.807) at home, 34-30 (.531) on the road and 24-24 (.500) at neutral sites.

Home Sweet Home
With comprehensive records beginning in the 1976-77 season (the third for women’s basketball at South Carolina), the Gamecocks are 369-155 (.704) all-time in games played at home, including a 124-58 mark (.681) in Colonial Life Arena. In the sixth season with head coach Dawn Staley at the helm, South Carolina is 59-25 (.702) at home, including one game at Carolina Coliseum in the 2012-13 season. The Gamecocks have won 45 of their last 56 games played in Colonial Life Arena.

Make It, Take It
South Carolina is exhibiting its most efficient offense of the Dawn Staley era so far this season, leading the SEC and ranking sixth in the nation with 49.1 percent accuracy from the field. The Gamecocks have shot 50.0 percent or higher six times already this season – the most in a season under Staley. In fact, in the previous five seasons, South Carolina hit at least 50.0 percent of its field goal attempts just 12 times combined. This year’s top effort was 60.9 percent against Charleston Southern (Nov. 8) – program best under Staley – followed by a 58.5 percent showing against NC Central (Dec. 2). The Gamecocks made at least 65.0 percent of their attempts in a half five times this season, including a remarkable 73.9 percent (17-of-23) in the second half against Seton Hall (Nov. 17).

Post Presence
South Carolina’s trio of primary post players – Alaina Coates, Elem Ibiam and Aleighsa Welch – has been the key to the Gamecocks’ offensive production so far this season. The trio has accounted for 438 of the team’s 922 points this season – 47.5 percent – and is shooting a combined 64.1 percent from the field (164-of-256). Welch leads the SEC and is third in the nation in field goal percentage at .700 for 14.3 points per game (12th in SEC). Coates’ perfect shooting outing for 23 points against SC State has lifted her average to 11.2 points on 64.9 percent shooting. Ibiam’s strong three games before the holiday break have her scoring 11.1 points per game on 57.6 percent shooting. In all, the Gamecocks have scored 464 points in the paint this season – 50.3 percent of their total scoring.