Haley Salvador / The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks overcome first half struggles to defeat Commodores

 South Carolina women’s basketball (14-5, 6-1 SEC) defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores (6-14, 1-6 SEC) 80-69 at Colonial Life Arena on Monday. 

The Gamecocks got off to a fast start with an 11-5 lead after a Vanderbilt timeout with 7:48 remaining in the first quarter. Alexis Jennings and Te’a Cooper each had four points before the timeout.

South Carolina took a 26-22 lead into the second quarter as Jennings led the team with eight points in the first quarter.

Vanderbilt came back strong to start the second quarter with a 12-0 scoring run. South Carolina went zero for 11 in field goals over a span of five minutes and 36 seconds. Vanderbilt led 34-28 after a South Carolina timeout. Vanderbilt’s Cierra Walker sparked the 12-0 run with back-to-back 3-pointers. 

“We didn’t have any rebounding when we shot the ball,” head coach Dawn Staley said, referring to the first half. “I thought we were trying to be aggressive. It was probably a little bit of too much one-on-one play.” 

Vanderbilt took a 40-38 lead into halftime as South Carolina’s Destanni Henderson made a layup right before the buzzer.

Jennings, Cooper and Tyasha Harris each had eight points in the first half. Mikiah Herbert Harrigan finished the first half with seven points.

South Carolina came out in the second half and regained the lead with an 8-2 scoring run. The Gamecocks led 46-42 after the first three minutes of the third quarter.

The momentum did not stop as South Carolina made four consecutive field-goal attempts to take a 61-50 lead into the fourth quarter. Vanderbilt went two for 10 in field goals during this span. The Gamecocks outscored the Commodores 23-10 in the third quarter. 

“I thought our post players did a great job offensively making shots,” Staley said. “I thought overall our depth at the post position was the thing that really gave us an edge when it comes to dominating the post players.” 

South Carolina did not take its foot off the gas in the fourth quarter. The Gamecocks stretched their lead to 78-59 in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run and six consecutive successful field goals. 

This was all the Gamecocks needed to finish off an 80-69 win over the Commodores.

“I thought we closed the gap and actually beat them on the boards at the end of the game,” Staley said. “That was good to take from this.”

Of South Carolina’s 80 points, 50 were in the paint and 20 were off of turnovers. South Carolina also outscored Vanderbilt 23-5 in fast break points. 

“We picked up full-court pressing early,” Cooper said. “We stayed in it. We were forcing a lot of turnovers.”

Cooper led South Carolina with 18 points. Herbert Harrigan and Jennings each had 15 points. Harris had 14 points and led the team with six assists. Victaria Saxton led South Carolina with eight rebounds.

“I’m very comfortable in my jump shot,” Herbert Harrigan said. “Even when I’m missing, just keep shooting because eventually it will fall.” 

The Gamecocks will now turn their attention to No. 19 Kentucky. South Carolina will travel to Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky on Thursday, Jan. 31 to face the Wildcats in a top-20 matchup. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network.  


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