The Daily Gamecock

Early deficit finally downs Gamecocks


Sunday night’s game against Notre Dame marked the third-straight game in which South Carolina fell behind early.

Against North Carolina, South Carolina trailed 8-0 to start the game and 10-3 at the first media timeout. Against the Florida State Seminoles, the Gamecocks fell behind again.

Sunday was the same story for the Gamecocks as the team fell behind 15-3 within five minutes. Once again, the Gamecocks clawed their way back throughout the first half and went into the locker room down just four, 32-28. Just like both regional games, South Carolina evened the score within the first two minutes of the second half. 

This time however, the Gamecocks could not hold the momentum they took in the opening minutes of the second half, trailing 43-36 as head coach Dawn Staley was forced to call a timeout at the 15:30 mark.

With 14 minutes left, the Gamecocks trailed by 10.

The key difference was Notre Dame’s trio of forwards Brianna Turner, Taya Reimer and All-American guard Jewell Loyd. Each player had 10 points in the first half to combine for 30 of the Fighting Irish’s 32 first half points. 

Unlike the two regional games, South Carolina was playing the No. 2 team in the country. In those games, a quick run was enough to lead the Gamecocks to a win. The Fighting Irish, however, responded.

Senior forward Aleighsa Welch gave the Gamecocks their first lead at the 1:09 mark, 65-64.

Once again, Notre Dame answered the call. Senior guard Madison Cable hit the game-winner with 16 seconds left on the clock. 

Finally, the Gamecocks met their match.

All season long, the Gamecocks played close games before taking charge midway through the second half. This game however, last year’s national runner-ups had the talent and experience to answer every run the Gamecocks had. North Carolina did not. Florida State did not. Notre Dame did.

“I feel like we could’ve controlled the game earlier in the game,” junior guard Asia Dozier said. “It would’ve put into a better position toward the end of the game. We didn’t do that. Notre Dame played a great game.”

South Carolina led for just 56 seconds in the entire game. Even though freshman A’ja Wilson led all second half scorers with 14, the combination of Turner, Reimer and Loyd was too much for the Gamecocks.

“In my mind it did feel (like we would come back again),” sophomore forward Alaina Coates said, “Being down the entire game and then just making a comeback; we did have a couple runs and then they did pull away. Realizing we were probably there and we did take the lead. There’s no doubt we had it in us, we just weren’t able to finish.”

The three combined for 55 points on 22-47 shooting. Their 10 free throws were three more than South Carolina’s entire team.

Loyd has led the Fighting Irish all year, and Sunday was no different.

“I mean, we went to Jewell (down the stretch),” Notre Dame head coach Muffett McGraw said. “She had to do everything.”

The Gamecocks made a habit of falling behind early and then coming back, but this time, against one of the nation’s top teams, their comeback fell just short.