Dec. 18, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 2/2 South Carolina plays its lone December game away from home on Sun., Dec. 20, as the Gamecocks travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for a 1 p.m. tipoff against East Carolina at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. Playing as part of the CresCom Bank Carolinas College Women’s Challenge, South Carolina (10-0) will face a Pirate team that brings a 6-3 record into a weekend that features three games in three days. The Gamecocks are looking to open their season 11-0 for the second-straight campaign and are expecting sophomore forward A’ja Wilson to return to the lineup.
- Today marks the Gamecocks’ 13th game in Myrtle Beach and their ninth as part of the Beach Ball Classic/Carolinas Challenge at the Convention Center. South Carolina is 6-6 in Myrtle Beach, including a 2-6 mark in the Convention Center, where it previously has faced only North Carolina. The Gamecocks’ other games in Myrtle Beach were part of the 1991 and 1993 Coastal Carolina Invitationals.
- Junior center Alaina Coates has been on a tear since South Carolina returned from Hawaii, averaging 22.3 points and 11.7 rebounds over the last three games. The stretch includes her first career triple-double (vs. Winthrop, 12/13), which she followed up with a double-double (vs. Hampton, 12/16) three days later.
- Senior guard Khadijah Sessions has been showing off her more efficient offense lately, shooting 68.4 percent from the field (13-of-19) over the last five games to average 6.6 points.
- Senior guard Tiffany Mitchell continues to re-discover her form after a long layoff following August foot surgery, and she is showing more frequent signs of her two-time All-America self. Scoring in double figures in all but one game this season, she shot 50.0 from 3-point range (6-of-12) over the last two games while also averaging 5.5 rebounds during the stretch.
By the Numbers
1 Blocks needed by junior center Alaina Coates to match Michelle Murray’s career mark (148) in third place in program history
2 Points needed by Tiffany Mitchell to reach 1,500 in her career
5 Double-doubles by sophomore forward A’ja Wilson, which matches her 2014-15 season total
5 Games in which junior center Alaina Coates has shot over 70.0 percent from the field
7 South Carolina double-digit wins this season, including four by at least 20 points
10 Triple-doubles posted in NCAA Division I games this season, including junior center Alaina Coates’ 29-point, 16-rebound, 10-block performance against Winthrop (Dec. 13)
11 Games on South Carolina’s schedule against teams currently ranked in the top 25, including seven against the top 15
13 Points needed by senior guard Tiffany Mitchell to match Sharon Gilmore’s 1,511 career mark in 10th place in program history
46 Second-half points scored by the Gamecocks against Hampton (Dec. 16), a season high
60 Consecutive AP Top 25 Polls in which the Gamecocks have appeared, closing in on the school record of 62
ECU Series Notes
The Gamecocks are 14-1 all-time against the Pirates with the lone loss coming in the inaugural meeting between the teams on Feb. 15, 1975. The two programs have not met since a 67-60 South Carolina win on Jan. 19, 1998, in Columbia. The Gamecocks have been nationally ranked in four of the games against the Pirates, winning by an average of 24.5 points in those outings.
South Carolina is 106-82 (.564) all-time playing on a neutral court, including a 28-16 record (.636) under head coach Dawn Staley. In regular-season action, the overall neutral-site record improves to 60-40 (.600) with a 14-5 mark (.739) under Staley.
South Carolina is looking to start a season 11-0 for just the second time in program history but the second time in as many seasons. The Gamecocks rocketed through the 2014-15 season with 22 straight victories. Prior to that, a 10-0 start was the program’s best and was accomplished by the 1981-82, 2012-13 and 2013-14 teams.
Getting Back Where We Belong
The Gamecocks have steadily marched up the national standings in field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense, ranking among the country’s top 20 in both. South Carolina has long been among the nation’s best defensive teams, adding offensive efficiency in recent seasons. The Gamecocks finished last season ranked fourth in the nation in field goal percentage (.484) and 10th in field goal percentage defense (.349). South Carolina is currently shooting 46.5 percent from the field (18th) and holding opponents to 33.2 percent (19th).
A pair of Gamecocks are moving rapidly up South Carolina’s career charts, closing in on milestones. Senior guard Tiffany Mitchell needs just two points to reach 1,500 for her career, which only 10 other Gamecocks have achieved. With 288 career assists and 186 career steals to go along with her scoring, only two former Gamecocks have surpassed that collection of numbers — Shannon Johnson (2,230 pts, 467 assts, 260 stls) and Martha Parker (1,728 pts, 542 assts, 284 stls). Junior center Alaina Coates has launched an assault on the Gamecocks’ blocked shots record book since swatting away 73 her freshman year. She needs just one more to break into the program’s all-time top three in career blocks. Coates broke the 38-year old single-game blocks record when she swatted away 10 against Winthrop on Dec. 13, 2015.