The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: Dominant defensive performance highlights No. 1 seed South Carolina's victory over No. 8 Oregon State

Sophomore guard Zia Cooke prepares to shoot the ball against Oregon State. South Carolina beat Oregon State 59-42.
Sophomore guard Zia Cooke prepares to shoot the ball against Oregon State. South Carolina beat Oregon State 59-42.

For the seventh consecutive season, the South Carolina women's basketball team will keep dancing into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The No. 1 seed Gamecocks defeated No. 8 seed Oregon State 59-42 on Tuesday night in the round of 32. 

With the victory, the team will advance to the Sweet 16 to face No. 5 seed Georgia Tech. 

Behind a solid defensive performance from the Gamecocks, the team was able to hold the Beavers' offense in check by combining for eight blocks, 10 steals and 36 defensive rebounds. 

Most impressively, the defense prevented the nation's top 3-point shooting team from heating up, holding Oregon State to a 3-of-19 performance from beyond the arc. 

It may have been a slow start for South Carolina, but the team began to pick up the pace, allowing only 5 points by Oregon State in the second quarter. The momentum in the game took a drastic change when the team went on a 14-2 run to close out the opening half.

After turning the ball over twice in the first quarter, the Beavers shelled out seven turnovers in the second, which led to 9 points off turnovers from the Gamecocks. 

"I thought our defense was established and the way that we wanted to play for the entire game," head coach Dawn Staley said. "We wanted to speed them up, we wanted to make sure they weren't getting clean looks at the basket, we wanted [to] disrupt, and we wanted to pressure them. And I thought we did a great job with that."

In the third quarter, the offense was able to put away the game for good, outscoring Oregon State 23-11. 

Despite only scoring 3 points, it was sophomore guard Brea Beal's defensive effort that stood out the most. In 32 minutes, she picked up a game-high 11 rebounds, along with two steals and one block. 

"You can't function as a team if people don't accept their roles, and a lot of times, nobody wants the role that Brea Beal plays for us," Staley said. "That is lock down our opponents best offensive guard, sometimes that is sacrificing your shot for a better shot. Sometimes that is just being a decoy and being a screener."

Fellow starter, junior forward Victaria Saxton made her presence felt in the paint as she finished with five blocks and three steals. 

On the offensive end, sophomore forward Aliyah Boston, junior guard Destanni Henderson and sophomore guard Zia Cooke all put together double-digit scoring efforts. Coming off the bench, sophomore forward Laeticia Amihere looked sharp, totaling 8 points and nine rebounds. 

What's Next?

South Carolina will be back at the Alamodome to take on Georgia Tech this weekend. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 73-56 win against No. 4 seed West Virginia in the second round. This weekend's game date and time is yet to be determined. 


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