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March 28, 2015


South Carolina Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Game Information

Opponent: No. 7/7 Florida State (32-4, 14-2 ACC)
Date: Sunday, March 29, 2015 | Noon
Site: Greensboro, N.C.
Arena: Greensboro Coliseum
Broadcast: ESPN (Pam Ward, pxp; Carolyn Peck, analyst; Maria Taylor, sideline)’ WatchESPN
Radio: 107.5 The Game (Brad Muller); Westwood One (Craig Way, pxp; Brenda VanLengen, analyst)
Live Stats:
Series History: SC leads 16-2

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, including a school-record 33 this season, and played in the last four NCAA Tournaments, including three trips to the Sweet 16 (2012, 2014, 2015) and one to the Elite Eight (2015). The Gamecocks have spent 30 straight weeks ranked in the AP top 10, highlighted by 12 weeks at No. 1 this season.
  • The Gamecocks are built as a reflection of the way head coach Dawn Staley approaches every opponent – find the head to cut off so that the rest of the body struggles. Instead, Staley’s team repeatedly proves that limiting one Gamecock only allows another to thrive. Team chemistry and firm grasp of sacrifice for the greater good allow those having an off night to cede their time to a teammate, and the North Carolina game was a prime example of that as junior Tina Roy took the reins from starting point guard Khadijah Sessions, guiding the Gamecocks on offense while hitting four 3s in a 5:00 span that kept the Tar Heels at bay. When UNC, clinging to a three-point lead, kept Tiffany Mitchell from getting off a shot in the final 90 seconds, senior Olivia Gaines confidently took one that tied the game and set the stage for the win.
  • South Carolina’s bench is among the most productive in the nation, accounting for 48.6 percent of the team’s 76.1 points per game (37.0 ppg).
  • The Gamecocks are 12th in the nation with an SEC-best 16.8 assists per game, a number that rises to 17.1 in postseason play. In face six Gamecocks average at least 2.0 assists per game over the last six outings.
  • South Carolina has out-rebounded its opponent 31 times this season with a 30-1 record in those games, including all six postseason contests and 15 SEC regular-season outings (tied at Kentucky, Mar. 1).
  • The Gamecocks are 9-2 against ranked opponents this season, the most such wins in program history, and the wins have come largely on the backs of South Carolina’s veterans. Senior Aleighsa Welch averages 9.8 points and 8.5 rebounds against ranked opponents, compared to 8.8 points and 5.4 rebounds the rest of the season. Similarly, junior Tiffany Mitchell’s scoring average is 15.4 against ranked teams compared to 13.8 in the other 24 games this season.


A South Carolina Win Would…

  • Put the Gamecocks into the NCAA Final Four for the first time in school history.
  • Make the Gamecocks 3-1 in NCAA Tournament games played in the state of North Carolina (1-1 in Raleigh in 2002).
  • Be the Gamecocks’ first in NCAA Tournament play against a team from the state of Florida.

By the Numbers
1 Gamecock ever to be a finalist for all three national player of the year awards – Tiffany Mitchell
2 Games this season in which South Carolina has attempted fewer than 10 free throws (9 vs. Central Michigan, Dec. 20; 9 vs. Tennessee, Mar. 8)
2 Games this season in which the Gamecocks have been out-rebounded – both in non-conference action – there has been one tie on the glass (at Kentucky, Mar. 1)
2 Freshman season records held by A’ja Wilson – free throws made (123) and free throw attempts (188) – both previously held by Alaina Coates
3 Games this season in which the Gamecocks have been out-scored in the paint, during which they are 2-1
4 Double-doubles by senior forward Aleighsa Welch in the last 13 games, including two of six postseason outings
6 Gamecocks who average at least 2.0 assists per postseason game
9 Wins against ranked opponents this season, the most in school history
11 Games in which South Carolina has assisted on at least 2/3 of its field goals, including two of four NCAA Tournament games
25 Games out of the 68 in her career in which Alaina Coates has pulled down double-figure rebounds, during which the Gamecocks are 24-1, including a 14-0 mark this season
38.9 Points per game in the paint by South Carolina, compared to 21.8 by its opponents (+17.1)
42.1 Percent of their own missed shots rebounded by the Gamecocks, best in the SEC
50.5 Percent of Gamecock field goals that have been assisted

Florida State Series Notes
The Gamecocks are 16-2 all-time against Florida State as the two programs shared time in the Metro Conference in the late 1980s. The last meeting came in South Carolina’s final game in the conference as the Seminoles edged out the top-seeded Gamecocks 54-53 in the Metro Tournament championship game on March 6, 1991. It was Florida State’s second win in three meetings with South Carolina that season after previously going 0-15 against the Gamecocks.

Ranked Readings
South Carolina’s nine wins against ranked foes this season is a new program record, topping the eight wins of the 1979-80 squad. In all the Gamecocks have played 11 ranked opponents this season with a 9-2 record against such foes, including a 3-0 mark in neutral-site games. The Gamecocks are 74-218 all-time against ranked teams with a 24-41 record in the Dawn Staley era. Under Staley, South Carolina is 9-16 against ranked opponents at Colonial Life Arena, 9-14 on the road and 6-11 at neutral sites. Tonight marks this season’s sixth game against a top-10 opponent, during which the Gamecocks are 4-1.

Crunch Time
South Carolina has won all seven of its games this season when the margin is under 10 points in the last five minutes, and the Gamecocks have done so with their primary strengths – Tiffany Mitchell, rebounding and defense. In those seven games – Southern Cal, vs. #22/22 Syracuse, at #9/8 Duke, #10/11 Kentucky, at Missouri, vs. #6/6 Tennessee and vs. #15/12 North Carolina – Staley trusts in Mitchell’s competitive spirit, giving her the ball in late-game situations. The junior has answered the bell, averaging 3.1 points per final five minutes of those games – nearly double the next Gamecock on the list. Behind her fearless attacking of the rim, a majority of her points have come at the free throw line, where she has hit 14-of-17 (.824) attempts during those close-game situations. In a show of determination, the Gamecocks have also dominated the glass at crunch time, out-rebounding their opponents 6.0 to 4.6 per final five minutes, with Alaina Coates, A’ja Wilson and Aleighsa Welch grabbing the bulk of the boards. South Carolina’s defense has held those opponents to just 20.0 percent shooting and 18.8 percent from outside the arc in that time span. The Gamecocks have lifted their free throw accuracy when they count most, shooting 72.9 percent (35-of-48) from the stripe in the final five minutes of those close games, compared to 67.6 percent (474-of-701) the rest of the season.

O. (M.) G.
Despite a career stat line that is relatively unassuming, senior Olivia Gaines has provided her share of dramatics in the Gamecocks’ two games that have been decided by a single possession. In the Gamecocks’ first top-10 test of the season, Gaines followed up Tiffany Mitchell’s 3-pointer to make it a one-point game with 19 seconds left by ripping the ball way from Rebecca Greenwell as she was double-teamed on the sideline. The savvy guard had the presence of mind to secure the ball and immediately call timeout, letting head coach Dawn Staley draw up the game-winning play. As South Carolina’s season hung on the brink of ending at the hands of North Carolina for the second-straight season, Gaines went to the free throw line with 81 seconds remaining and the Gamecocks down 60-63. The front end of her one-and-one opportunity missed, but she snagged the offensive rebound to keep hope alive. As the ball moved around the perimeter, it found its way back to Gaines, whose off-balance 3 bounced around the rim before falling in to tie the game with 61 seconds to go. Her more recognizable teammates finished off the win, but it was certainly her clutch delivery that bred their confidence.