Gamecock Defense Helps Close Out Alabama at Home
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Junior Mikiah Herbert Harrigan and No. 23/- South Carolina women’s basketball came up big when they needed to, defeating Alabama 62-59 at Colonial Life Arena Sunday afternoon. The Gamecocks (10-4, 2-0 SEC) forced 17 Alabama turnovers, including three in the final minute to clinch the victory.
Herbert Harrigan scored a team-high 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting, including a clutch jumper with 35 seconds remaining to give the Gamecocks a 60-59 lead. Te’a Cooper and Alexis Jennings each snagged a steal on Alabama’s next two possessions, leading to a pair of free throws to hold a 62-59 lead with 4.8 seconds left. Cooper’s defensive skills showed yet again with another steal on the final possession of the game, sealing the victory for the Gamecocks.
Freshman guard Destanni Henderson scored 11 points in the victory, the second time in three games she has scored in double figures. Redshirt-senior guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore scored nine points off the bench, and added three assists in 24 minutes.
South Carolina raced out of the gates with a 9-0 run to begin the game. Henderson drilled a three on the second possession, and Cooper intercepted a pass and went coast-to-coast for a bucket during the run. Henderson ended the quarter with five points, giving the Gamecocks a 16-5 advantage at the end of the quarter.
South Carolina kept its foot on the gas in the second quarter, heading into the paint for most of its scoring. Herbert Harrigan came up with a huge offensive rebound late in the half that led to back-to-back buckets for Henderson in the paint to help the Gamecocks head into halftime with a 10-point lead. The bench added six points during the frame, with points coming from Cuevas-Moore and LeLe Grissett, all in the paint. At the break, with a 33-23 lead, the Garnet and Black held a 22-10 advantage in points in the paint.
The Gamecocks connected on two quick buckets to begin the second half, but Alabama used a 12-2 run in the middle of the quarter to fight back to 43-42. South Carolina held on to the lead for the remainder of the quarter, getting buckets from Herbert Harrigan and Victaria Saxton to head into the fourth quarter with a 47-44 lead.
The South Carolina lead grew to eight, starting with a big and-one from Saxton to begin the fourth quarter. Alabama responded with five straight points of its own to pull back within three points. The Crimson Tide remained close in the final minutes of the game, including taking a one-point lead with 1:07 remaining. South Carolina’s defense then stiffened up, and came away with the victory.
The Gamecocks held the Crimson Tide scoreless for the final 1:07 of the game, forcing three turnovers on Alabama’s last three possessions.
QUOTABLE DAWN STALEY
On team defense down the stretch…
“You mention [Mikiah Herbert Harrigan] and you mention Te’a [Cooper], but the other three players set them up to be successful in that they guarded,” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said. “I told them that in the locker room that they’ll probably get the headlines, but certainly everyone else did their job to set them up to be successful.”
South Carolina picked up 11 steals against Alabama, including six in the fourth quarter, four which resulted in Gamecock points.
- With five blocks, Herbert Harrigan now has 117 career blocks and gas sole possession of 10th place in South Carolina history.
- Herbert Harrigan’s 18 points marks the first time this season she has scored in double figures in consecutive games.
- South Carolina is now 9-0 this season when it holds opponents to 69 or fewer points.
- This season South Carolina is 3-0 when Henderson scores in double figures.
- South Carolina registered 10 blocks, giving it at least 10 for three straight games. The Gamecocks entered the game ranked second in the country in blocks per game (7.4).
- The Gamecocks defeated Alabama for the 15th-straight time, all during the Dawn Staley era.
The Gamecocks (10-4, 2-0 SEC) head into week two of the SEC season with Florida set to come to Colonial Life Arena on Thu., Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. South Carolina then takes on LSU on the road on Jan. 13, at 5 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.