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Nov. 3, 2014


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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina women’s basketball got its second No. 2 spot in a major preseason poll with the USA Today Coaches Poll released today matching the placing in last week’s Associated Press Poll.

The Gamecocks took on their first opponent of the 2014-15 season in an exhibition game Sunday at Colonial Life Arena, using its size to overwhelm Coker 100-25. Head coach Dawn Staley challenged her team throughout the game, looking for every opportunity to evaluate each student-athlete as well as see how different combinations worked together. The Gamecocks responded with 59.2 percent shooting from the field and a 55-26 rebounding margin. Staley’s goal of pushing the ball and getting points ahead of the defense setting up delivered 28 fast break points. Freshman guard/forward A’ja Wilson posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, both team highs.

Heading into regular-season action, the Gamecocks are still managing the lofty expectations that come from returning all five starters among the 10 letterwinners back from last season’s SEC Championship squad. South Carolina won 29 games last season and earned the program’s first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Headlining the group is SEC Player of the Year and WBCA All-American Tiffany Mitchell, who averaged 15.5 points en route to those accolades last season. SEC Freshman and Co-6th Player of the Year Alaina Coates will look to further expand her game, which already has her rated as the 25th-best college player in the nation according to espnW rankings released today. After two All-SEC seasons, senior forward Aleighsa Welch will continue her assault on the rebounding record books. Senior center Elem Ibiam will again anchor the middle of the Gamecock defense following her school-record 83 blocked shots last season.

To that core group, the Gamecocks added the No. 2 signing class in the nation. Wilson was the top recruit in the 2014 signing class, and center Jatarie White was close behind in the No. 7 spot. The duo bolsters the height and versatility of the Gamecocks’ perimeter and post, respectively. Freshman guards Bianca Cuevas and Kaydra Duckett were also ranked among the top 35 players in the 2014 class.

South Carolina’s regular-season opener is on Sat., Nov. 15, against Southern Cal. Tipoff at Colonial Life Arena is set for 7 p.m., and the game is just the beginning of a three-game home stand to launch the season.

Season tickets are available for $50 each for a reserved seat or a Family Four-Pack of four general admission tickets for $100. Visit or call 1-800-4SC-FANS to purchase season tickets.

USA Today Coaches Preseason Poll

1. Connecticut
2. South Carolina
3. Notre Dame
4. Tennessee
5. Texas A&M
6. Stanford
7. Duke
8. Maryland
9. Baylor
10. Kentucky
11. Louisville
12. Texas
13. North Carolina
14. California
15. Michigan State
16. Nebraska
17. West Virginia
18. DePaul
19. Iowa
20. Oklahoma State
21. Oregon State
22. Dayton
23. UCLA
24. LSU
25. Syracuse