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Nov. 28, 2014

Box Score

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FREEPORT, BAHAMAS – No. 1/2 South Carolina twice fought back from double-digit deficits to top No. 22/22 Syracuse 67-63 in the championship game of the Lucaya Division of the Junkanoo Jam Friday night. The Gamecocks (5-0) led for all of 9:11 in the game, including just 29 seconds of the second half before taking a 63-61 lead and holding on for the final 1:51 of the game. Freshman A’ja Wilson posted her first career double-double, including the putback with 51 seconds left that made it a two-possession game.

Offense was flowing easily for both teams early for a 12-10 Gamecock lead at the first media timeout. Out of the break, South Carolina’s shooting cooled considerably, though, hitting just 1-of-13 over the next seven minutes to fall behind 27-15 with 7:37 to play in the first half. The Orange were forcing the Gamecocks into outside shots and controlling the defensive boards to keep South Carolina off balance.

Tina Roy entered the game and quickly hit a 3 from the right wing to end the 6:23 scoring drought. The Gamecocks went to an aggressive zone on the defensive end and forced consecutive turnovers, but could not convert on the other end. Tiffany Mitchell hit a pair of free throws after being fouled on an offensive rebound, and the move seemed to get the Gamecocks back on track.

A’ja Wilson pulled in a defensive rebound then hit a short jumper. Another defensive board put the Gamecocks quickly back on offense, where Mitchell hit a long jumper to pull within 24-27. Wilson reeled in another defensive rebound and sent the outlet ahead to Welch, who was fouled on the play and converted the traditional three-point play to tie things up at 27-27 with 3:15 to go in the half. The Orange went back on top with a baseline jumper from Diamond Henderson, but Mitchel answered with her third 3 of the game. Syracuse forced a turnover and hit a tough shot at the buzzer to take a 35-31 lead into halftime.

Khadijah Sessions hit a 3 out of the break to bring the Gamecocks within one, which they did twice in the opening minutes of the half, but Syracuse had the answer each time. A pair of 3s stretched the lead out to 43-36, but Roy answered with one of her own. Mitchell picked up a steal and hit a layup on the other end to make it a one-possession game yet again. Another 3-pointer put the Gamecocks back on their heels, but Wilson kept things within reach. The freshman hit a jumper from the right elbow, and two possessions later snatched a defensive board and converted a traditional three-point play on the other end to tie the game at 46-46 with 11:08 to play.

The Orange surged ahead again with a 13-3 run that saw cold Gamecock shooting deliver a 59-49 Syracuse lead with 6:43 to play. Again, it was Roy who shot the Gamecocks out of their slump, hitting a 3 from the left wing to end a scoring drought of over two minutes. The defense forced a turnover on the other end, and Mitchell hit both ends of a one-and-one opportunity. The Gamecock defense stepped up again to force a tough 3-point attempt from Henderson, but a missed defensive rebound gave the Orange another shot. Another missed shot, sent South Carolina back on offense.

Mitchell found Roy on the left wing again, and the redshirt junior drained her fourth 3 of the game to bring the Gamecocks within a bucket with 5:05 on the clock. The defense was fully energized at that point, forcing the Orange to call a timeout. The break did not slow South Carolina, which locked in to force a shot-clock violation. On the other end, Wilson drew a foul and hit one of two free throws to narrow the deficit to one with 4:10 to play. She atoned for missing the chance to tie the game by leaping through the crowd to reel in a defensive rebound and finding Sessions, who drove all the way to the basket in transition to put the Gamecocks up 60-59 at the 3:35 mark – their first lead of the second half.

Both teams came up empty on their next possessions until Briana Day hit two free throws to put Syracuse back up 61-60 with 2:06 remaining. The Orange continued to pack it in on defense, challenging a Gamecock other than Mitchell or Roy to hit from outside. Junior Asia Dozier stepped in to bury a clutch 3 from the top of the arc for a 63-61 lead with 1:51 to play. Day put up another shot inside, but Wilson swatted it away. Day snared the loose ball, but the Gamecocks again forced a shot-clock violation to get the ball back with 75 seconds to go.

Wilson continued to impose her will on the game, pulling in Mitchell’s missed jumper and going right back up with it for a 65-61 Gamecock lead with 51 seconds to go. Back on defense, the freshman read an entry pass from Alexis Peterson perfectly and stepped in for the steal, racing up the court before holding the ball to let the clock run down. The Orange were forced to foul town the stretch, and Mitchell hit enough to seal the victory.

Mitchell led all scorers with 21 points, while Wilson finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, of which 11 points and six boards came in the second half. Roy finished with 12 points, all on 3s, and Welch added 11 points.


With the Gamecocks up 63-61 on Asia Dozier’s 3, A’ja Wilson blocked a shot that helped force a shot-clock violation, put back an offensive rebound to stretch the lead to two possessions and capped the 48-second show with a steal that essentially sealed the game.

KEY STAT South Carolina held Syracuse to just 28.6 percent shooting in the second half and out-scored the Orange 18-4 in the final 6:43 of the game.


  • A’ja Wilson was named Junkanoo Jam Lucaya Division MVP, while Tiffany Mitchell was also part of the All-Tournament team.
  • South Carolina led for only 2:19 of the second half and 9:11 overall in the game.
  • A’ja Wilson posted her first career double-double with 15 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
  • The Gamecocks gave up 17 second-chance points on 19 offensive rebounds for Syracuse.
  • South Carolina’s defense held Syracuse to just 28.6 percent shooting in the second half after the Orange hit 46.7 percent in the first half.
  • Tiffany Mitchell played just seconds shy of the full 40 minutes of the game.
  • Tina Roy’s four 3-pointers were her most since a career-high five against Presbyterian on Nov. 27, 2011.

QUOTABLE South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley
Our kids were really resilient. We didn’t hang our heads when we got down. We kept defending and trying to shoot them out of the zone. We got some key buckets and some key stops, and that’s what it’s all about. I just thought we came up with big play after big play. A’ja Wilson got an offensive rebound and a putback. She got a nice steal at the end of the game, and you need players like that to make big players. I’m happy that the players on our team made the big plays when we needed them.


The Gamecocks return to Columbia for a two-game homestand at Colonial Life Arena. South Carolina will host NC Central on Mon., Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. followed by an 8 p.m. tipoff on Thu., Dec. 4, against Charlotte.