Nov. 21, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 2/2 South Carolina arrived in Los Angeles late Friday night to begin a 10-day trip to play four games in California and Hawaii. That stretch starts Sunday against UCLA in a 1 p.m. (PT) tipoff at storied Pauley Pavilion. Both teams are undefeated as the Bruins are 2-0 to the Gamecocks’ 3-0 record. UCLA’s roster includes entries from top-10 recruiting classes over the last two seasons, while South Carolina boasts five seniors and 11 returning letterwinners from last season’s NCAA Final Four team.
- This is the Gamecocks’ third regular-season trip in the Pacific Time Zone in the Dawn Staley era. South Carolina ventured to Stanford and UC Davis in 2010-11, losing both games, and to Southern Cal and San Diego State in 2013-14, winning both contests. Under Staley, four of South Carolina’s NCAA Tournament games have come in the Pacific time zone as well. The Gamecocks fell to Stanford in Staley’s NCAA Sweet 16 debut in 2011-12, but won both games in Seattle in 2013-14 to advance to the Sweet 16 in Palo Alto, where they lost to North Carolina.
- While Dawn Staley has never coached a game in Pauley Pavilion before tonight, she has played in the storied building three times. Staley’s Virginia Cavaliers took down UCLA 77-55 on Dec. 28, 1991, behind nine assists from the then-senior point guard. In the second game of the regular-season tournament, the Cavaliers dispatched Southern Cal 71-52 with Staley netting 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting while swiping four steals. Nearly a decade later, the 1999-2000 Bruins hosted USA Basketball in an exhibition game on Nov. 5, 1999, which the national team claimed 112-55 with Staley handing out 10 assists in 25 minutes of work and South Carolina assistant coach Nikki McCray-Penson scored 13 points in 15 minutes of play.
South Carolina is enjoying its most successful period in program history. The 2015 Senior Class set a four-year record with 113 wins and a .813 winning percentage. The 2016 Senior Class has a chance top that number, entering the season with a three-year mark of 88-16, winning 84.6 percent of its contests. Winning consecutive SEC regular-season titles in the last two seasons, South Carolina has not finished outside the SEC’s top four in four campaigns. In the last two seasons, three Gamecocks have earned All-America honors — prior to the 2013-14 season just 12 Gamecocks had captured the title. Seven Gamecocks have earned All-SEC selection in the last two seasons, including three members of the 2015-16 squad.
By the Numbers
1 Free throw needed by senior guard Tiffany Mitchell to tie former teammate Aleighsa Welch for seventh in career free throws made in Gamecock history
1.4 Assist-to-turnover ratio for the Gamecocks, which ranks second in the SEC and 30th in the nation
2 Returning All-Americans on this season’s Gamecock roster — Tiffany Mitchell (1st team) and A’ja Wilson (3rd team)
3 Gamecocks named to the Wooden Award Watch List — Alaina Coates, Tiffany Mitchell and A’ja Wilson
8 Gamecocks on this season’s roster who were named either McDonald’s or Parade All-America in high school
9 Blocks needed by junior center Alaina Coates to move into South Carolina’s career top five
11 Letterwinners returning from last season’s school-record setting team
UCLA Series Notes
The Gamecocks and Bruins have met just once before in women’s basketball in a Jan. 5, 1981, game that was later forfeited by South Carolina, along with seven others, due to the participation of an ineligible player. Ranked No. 10 in the nation at the time, the Gamecocks defeated the Bruins 86-81 in Columbia.
Senior forward Sarah Imovbioh joined the Gamecocks this season after three campaigns at Virginia, during which she annually ranked among the ACC’s top 15 rebounders and top 10 field goal percentage shooters. Her strong rebounding instincts have carried over to the Gamecocks as has her ability to go right back to the basket with an offensive board. She averages 10.3 points and 9.0 rebounds through three games. Her six points and four rebounds early in the fourth quarter against #6/10 Ohio State (Nov. 13) allowed the Gamecocks to hold off and then storm past the Buckeyes in the season opener, and her energy and efficiency early in the second half at Clemson (Nov. 18) sparked a surge that put the game out of reach.