In-State Matchup Set for Sunday
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 1/1 South Carolina is back at home against an in-state foe, hosting Charleston Southern on Sun., Dec. 18. Tipoff is at 2 p.m. with the game streaming on SECN+. There will be a pregame Chalk Talk beginning at 12:30 for the first 300 season ticket holders who would like to attend. Enter the arena at College Street and proceed to the Frank McGuire Club.
Fans, please be aware of traffic pattern changes around the arena. More info at: https://gamecocksonline.com/news/2022/12/09/changes-to-colonial-life-arena-traffic-patterns/
South Carolina’s rebounding has been elite for several seasons, and this season’s team is keeping pace with that legacy. The Gamecocks’ 50.4 rebounds per game are third in the nation, and their 18.1 offensive rebounds per game are sixth. The effort is led by Aliyah Boston (9.2) and Kamilla Cardoso (8.6), but each roster position contributes to the effort. Brea Beal leads the next group on the glass at 4.8 per game, followed by five other Gamecocks pulling down at least 3.0 per game.
The Gamecocks have proven to be as versatile an offense as needed to win games this season thanks to a bend but never break defense. South Carolina is 5-0 when scoring 80 or more points and when scoring 79 or fewer. The Gamecocks are 5-0 when four or more score in double figures and when three or fewer hit the mark. They are 5-0 when hitting five or more threes, and 5-0 when making fewer.
“Irreplaceable” is the word head coach Dawn Staley keeps coming down to about senior guard Brea Beal because of everything she does on the court AND the manner in which she approaches it. She lets the stars be the stars, focuses on what she is great at and, in that, ends up becoming a star in her own right … finally. Beal’s most recent game (Dec. 15 vs. South Dakota State) was indicative of her career – defensively hitting career highs with six steals (resulting in six points) and five blocks, but also hitting key buckets (9 points) and finding teammates for others (3 assists).
Senior guard Zia Cooke shook off a slow-shooting start against South Dakota State to thrive in the second half, shooting 66.7 percent (6-of-9) in the final 20 minutes, including 4-of-6 accuracy in the fourth to turn back a late Jackrabbit rally. Over the last two games, Cooke has scored 19.0 points on 46.7 percent shooting (14-of-30).
By the Numbers
2 – Aliyah Boston needs four offensive rebounds to join Marsha Williams (1990-93) in second place (career) in program history.
11.4 – Kamilla Cardoso has average 11.4 rebounds over the last five games, including 5.4 on the offensive end.
47.1 – South Carolina has rebounded 47.1 percent of its own missed shots this season.
The Charleston Southern Series
The Gamecocks have won all seven meetings between the two teams with a 38.4 average margin of victory. The two teams have not met since the 2013-14 season, during which the Gamecocks posted a 99-29 victory over the Bucs on Nov. 8, 2013.
Home Sweet Home
The Gamecocks are 501-165 (.752) in home games (some records prior to 1976-77 did not include location of games). Current head coach Dawn Staley is 189-34 at home with that .848 winning percentage ranking second among the program’s all-time head coaches (Pam Parsons (41-7) .854).
Playing in its 20th season at Colonial Life Arena, South Carolina boasts a 252-67 (.790) record in the building, including four undefeated seasons since 2013-14. Staley’s share of that record is 186-34 (.845).
South Carolina’s depth has been a hot topic this season, and it has not disappointed.
The Gamecock bench has been especially productive offensively, averaging 40.2 points to account for 49.7 percent of the Gamecocks’ total offense. By comparison, last season’s bench netted just 21.1 points per game for 29.8 percent of the offense.
South Carolina’s bench has out-scored its starters four times this season – at Clemson (Nov. 17), vs. Hampton (Nov. 27), vs. Memphis (Dec. 3) and vs. Liberty (Dec. 11). Five Gamecocks have come off the bench to score in double figures in at least two games so far this season – Kamilla Cardoso (5), Ashlyn Watkins (4), Laeticia Amihere (3), Sania Feagin (3) and Bree Hall (2).
The bench offensive production has come in key games with this season’s group averaging 31.7 points per game against ranked opponents (41.3 percent), including some timely buckets in tight games.
On the boards, the bench has grabbed 53.7 percent of the total rebounds so far this season (24.8 per game). Kamilla Cardoso leads that group with her 8.6 boards per game, which is fourth in the SEC.
Now in its senior season, South Carolina’s first No. 1 signing class – Laeticia Amihere, Brea Beal, Aliyah Boston, Zia Cooke, Olivia Thompson – has shaped the program from the moment those five freshmen gathered on campus.
In careers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the group has reached the Final Four in both their NCAA Tournament appearances, including winning the 2022 National Championship, and has never been ranked outside the top 10. With a combined 103-8 record, they have won 92.8 percent of their games, including a 40-5 mark against nationally ranked opponents.
In SEC action, the class has lost a total of just three league games en route to two regular-season titles (2020, 2022). They have played in three SEC Tournament championship games, claiming the title in two of those (2020, 2021).