The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks face Baylor in SEC/Big 12 Challenge

The South Carolina women’s basketball team (4-3) will face the Baylor Bears (6-0) in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena.  The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

This will be the third match-up against top-ten opponents for the Gamecocks this season, as Baylor is ranked No. 4, while the Gamecocks are No. 18. South Carolina has previously played Oregon State and Maryland, who were each ranked ninth at the time. South Carolina lost both of those games. 

This matchup also features two successful programs of this decade. Baylor won a national title in 2012, while South Carolina won its first national title in 2017. 

Newly named 2018 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year Dawn Staley and the Gamecocks are coming off of a 65-55 victory over the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday, Nov. 28. 

Junior Tyasha Harris scored a season-high 24 points for the Gamecocks in the victory over Dayton. South Carolina is 26-3 all-time when Harris scores in double figures. Therefore, getting her the ball will be one of the major keys to victory.

“It’s a challenge for us as a coaching staff, and we gotta figure out ways to put this team in positions to win games,” head coach Dawn Staley said.

Another key to victory for South Carolina is rebounding. The Gamecocks are averaging 38.1 rebounds per game and have a 0.2 advantage in the rebound margin against opponents. Baylor, however, is averaging 49.8 rebounds per game and has a 21.3 advantage in its rebound margin.

Before the victory over Dayton, South Carolina lost back-to-back games in the Vancouver Showcase, falling to Oregon State and Drake. 

“We’re just really a work in progress,” Staley said. “There's some things that are pretty good about our team, some things that we need to improve in quickly.”

The Gamecocks look to boost their resume in another tough non-conference game, as they face a top-five Baylor team in front of a home crowd in Columbia.

“I always like to play November and December for March and April,” Staley said. “Hopefully this will help us later on in the season.”

The season does not get any easier for South Carolina after Baylor. The Gamecocks will play five more non-conference games in December, including road games against Duke and Purdue. The SEC schedule begins on Jan. 3 at Texas A&M.