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March 18, 2015

8576293.jpeg South Carolina Postseason Guide Get Acrobat Reader | 1st/2nd Round Tournament Central | Buy Tickets

Game Information

Opponent: Savannah State (21-10)
Date: Friday, March 20, 2015
Time: 5 p.m.
Tickets: $36 Booklet; $17.50 Friday; $20 Sunday
Broadcast: ESPN2 (Pam Ward, pxp; Carolyn Peck, analyst); ESPN3
Radio: 107.5 The Game (Brad Muller)
Live Stats:
Series History: SC leads 7-0

South Carolina Notables

  • South Carolina is in its 41st season of women’s basketball. It is the program’s 24th season in the SEC and the seventh under head coach Dawn Staley. The back-to-back SEC champion has won at least 25 games in each of the last four seasons and played in the last three NCAA Tournaments, including two trips to the Sweet 16 (2012, 2014). The Gamecocks have spent 30 straight weeks ranked in the AP top 10, highlighted by 12 weeks at No. 1 this season.
  • After repeating as SEC regular-season champions, the Gamecocks claimed their first SEC Tournament title this season in their first appearance in the championship game. South Carolina defeated then-#5/5 Tennessee on March 8.
  • South Carolina is 29-0 this season when out-scoring opponents in the paint, leaving just three games in which an opponent has kept the Gamecocks from thriving on high-percentage shots. On the season, South Carolina averages 38.9 points in the paint, accounting for 51.2 percent of its total offense.
  • The Gamecocks have shot 40.0 percent or better 25 times in 32 games this season and have won each of them, including all 14 in which they shot at least 50.0 percent. On the other end, just six opponents have shot 40.0 or better against South Carolina with the Gamecocks posting a 5-1 record in those outings.
  • South Carolina out-rebounded its opponent 29 times this season with a 28-1 record in those games, including all three SEC Tournament contests and 15 SEC regular-season outing (tied at Kentucky, Mar. 1). A Gamecock has reached double-figure rebounds 25 times this season, including a team-high 13 times by sophomore Alaina Coates.
  • The Gamecock defense has held its opponent under 60 points 23 times this season, including six of its last eight outings. Only one team has scored over 67 points this season – UConn’s 87 on Feb. 9.
  • South Carolina’s bench is among the most productive in the nation, accounting for 47.8 percent of the team’s 75.5 points per game (36.3 ppg). The group has out-scored the Gamecocks’ starters 17 times this season, including 11 SEC games, and has provided the team’s top scorer 16 times. They have out-scored the entire opposing team five times, including one SEC contest (at Florida).
  • Two-time SEC Player of the Year Tiffany Mitchell was named a Naismith Trophy semifinalist and a finalist for the Dawn Staley Award, keeping herself in the national player of the year conversation thanks to her ability to affect the game on both sides of the ball. She is the only active SEC player to rank among the league’s top 15 in points (6th, 14.4 ppg), assists (14th, 2.7 apg) and steals (9th, 1.9).
  • Senior Aleighsa Welch shattered South Carolina’s career offensive rebounds records during the SEC Tournament, grabbing 10 over the three games to lift her total to 435. With 93 offensive boards this season, the two-time First-Team All-SEC selection accounts for 19.7 percent of the team’s offensive rebounds. At 920 career total rebounds, Welch is just the fourth player in school history to record 1,000 career points and 900 career boards. She is ninth in program history with 22 career double-doubles.
  • SEC Freshman of the Year and First-Team All-SEC choice A’ja Wilson closed the regular season with the best freshman rebounding game in program history with her 19 boards at Kentucky (Mar. 1), adding 16 points for her fifth double-double of the season. The top player in the 2014 signing class remains on several national player of the year lists as the Gamecocks top shot blocker (1.8 bpg), second-leading scorer (13.3 ppg) and third-best rebounder (6.8 rpg). All three numbers rank among the top 12 in the SEC.
  • Second-Team All-SEC center Alaina Coates has the ability to dominate stretches of a game, and the Gamecocks have capitalized on that effort. An intimidating presence in the paint, Coates is already among the program’s top 10 with 21 career double-doubles, which includes 11 this season. She shot 65.2 percent in the SEC Tournament.
  • Junior Tina Roy has filled a variety of roles for the Gamecocks, and both were on full display at the SEC Tournament. The guard was the team’s top distributor, handing out 3.7 assists per game, and the sharp-shooter powered South Carolina past LSU in the semifinals, hitting 4-of-5 from 3-point range in the second half.
  • Point guard Khadijah Sessions has long been a defensive star, but her offense has been key to the Gamecocks’ success this season. Through the first 18 games, the junior averaged 3.8 points on 33.8 percent shooting, including 22.9 percent from 3-poing range. In the 14 games since then, Sessions has added 5.4 points per game on 45.9 percent shooting, including 43.5 percent from outside the arc.


NCAA Tournament Tally
South Carolina is making its 12th NCAA Tournament appearance and fourth straight under head coach Dawn Staley, making this year’s season’s senior class just the second to play in the NCAA Tournament every season. The last four-year stint came in 1988-91 as part of the Metro Conference. The Gamecocks are 13-10 overall in the NCAA Tournament with five Sweet 16 appearances, highlighted by a run to the 2002 Elite Eight, which was the last season in which South Carolina hosted tournament games. South Carolina earned its second No. 1 seed in as many seasons and will play all of its NCAA Tournament games in the Eastern Time Zone for the first time in the Staley era. In her 15th season as a head coach, Staley has taken a team to the NCAA Tournament nine times. She is 7-9 at the event, including a 5-3 mark at South Carolina.

Gamecocks Against the Field
South Carolina has faced 10 teams that will play in this season’s NCAA Tournament, including two of the three teams traveling to Columbia. The Gamecocks are 13-1 against those 10 teams, which includes six SEC foes. South Carolina topped 11th-seeded LSU three times and went 2-0 against No. 2 seed Tennessee and No. 10 seed Arkansas. The Gamecocks’ non-conference scheduled featured four games against teams that are now in the tournament field – Connecticut, Duke, Savannah State and Syracuse.

Postseason Powerhouses
Three Gamecock veterans showed their ability to lift their games in postseason action, as defined by the SEC and NCAA Tournaments, last season. In closing out her SEC Freshman of the Year effort, Alaina Coates averaged 11.0 rebounds over the team’s five postseason games in 2014, compared to her season average of 8.4. Guard Tina Roy lifted her 3-point shooting percentage from .233 in the season to .308 in the postseason. Forward Aleighsa Welch similarly lifted her field goal percentage from 57.4 percent for the season to 59.5 percent in postseason, while also grabbing more rebounds – 8.4 rpg compared to 7.6. In SEC Tournament action this season, both Welch and Roy stepped up again. Welch averaged 7.3 rebounds in the three postseason games after a season average of 6.4. Roy improved her distribution, handing out 3.7 assists per game at the tournament with a season average of 2.4.