Zach McKinley / The Daily Gamecock

South Carolina defeats Dayton for crucial win

South Carolina (4-3) picked up a crucial non-conference win against Dayton (2-4) by a score of 65-55 on Wednesday night at Colonial Life Arena.

The Gamecocks struggled early offensively as they only shot 1-10 from the field while the Flyers were able to shoot 7-11 on a 14-2 run to start the game.

“They were kind of picking us apart early in the first part of the game,” head coach Dawn Staley said. “Because we weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be.” 

However, South Carolina was able to go on a scoring streak of its own by ending the first quarter on a 10-0 run which led Dayton to just over a 7 minute long scoring drought that ended the first and continued into the second quarter.

“Once we sped the game up, we were able to just move a little faster,” Staley said. “Just go downhill a little bit more.”

The Gamecocks shot better in the second quarter as they shot 46.7 percent in the second as opposed to the 29.4 percent shooting percentage in the first.

South Carolina was able to do so by distributing the points to different players, including senior forward Alexis Jennings who scored seven points in the first half along with junior guard Tyasha Harris and junior forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan who scored six points apiece.

Even with the Gamecocks' present offense, Dayton continued to shoot consistently in the second quarter as the Flyers constantly responded to South Carolina scoring.

This resulted in a 30-30 tie at the half with help of Flyers redshirt junior forward Julia Chandler who scored 12 points including two shots from beyond the arc to end the first half.

This back and forth battle continued for South Carolina and Dayton as both teams shot 41 percent from the field in the first five minutes of the third quarter. The Gamecocks ended the quarter shooting 6-8 with the help of Harris who scored 12 points in the third quarter alone. 

The South Carolina defense also showed out in the second half as they shut down the Flyers’ leading scorer in Chandler to just three points in the third by forcing her into foul trouble early.

As the fourth quarter began, both teams caught each other in a defensive battle as the Flyers and Gamecocks were only able to score two points each in the first four minutes of the fourth.

South Carolina's offense put up 10 more points the rest of the way and the defense put on a solid performance as they held Dayton to just 1-13 shooting.

“We didn’t allow them the easy looks,” said Staley. “We didn’t allow them to drive through our defense and we just attacked a little bit more.” 

Harris lead the Gamecocks in scoring with 24 points and Staley recognized her as a crucial part of the win.

“We had to get some get scoring from the backcourt and just scoring in general,” Staley said. “And [Harris] took that upon herself to recognize that she’s gotta put a lot of shots up.” 

The Gamecocks will look to continue their winning ways on Sunday at 7 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena as they take on the Baylor Bears (6-0) in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. 

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