A strong second half rallied the Gamecock men's basketball team to victory on Sunday, beating the Rider Broncs, 65-58. It was the Gamecocks' fourth consecutive victory, matching its longest win streak over Division I opponents since January 2019.
The first half was a struggle for the Gamecocks. Rider started on an 11-2 run, keeping the Gamecocks quiet from three on its first four attempts. 3-point struggles were a problem for South Carolina throughout the game, as it finished the first half with a 2-10 mark and the game at 6-20.
When Keyshawn Bryant entered for the first time this season at the 13:56 mark, things began to feel different for the Gamecocks. He would score 6 points in the first half, finishing with 17 on the afternoon.
“It feels good, you know, just being out there with the team, with my team overall. Most importantly, it felt good playing against some other guys,” Bryant said at a postgame press conference.
The Rider's matchup zone made Carolina struggle early, as the Broncs got its lead up to 9 late. They only led by 3 at the break, 28-25, because of a 7-1 Gamecock run to end the half.
In the second half, free throws made a huge difference. South Carolina made it to the line five times in the first half. The team took the trip 21 times in the second half, converting on 14, which ultimately made the difference in this game.
“Those guys are good foul shooters, so getting them to the line means a lot,” head coach Frank Martin said at a postgame press conference.
The Gamecocks trailed for the first 7:30 of the second half, but as shown in the first half, runs are important. South Carolina went on a 14-4 run, taking a 3-point lead at the 10-minute mark.
Rider cut the lead down to 1 out of the under-eight media timeout, but that is when the Gamecock offense began to take off. It went on an 11-0 run, taking its first double-digit lead of the game at 53-42 with 5:21 remaining.
South Carolina's defense held strong throughout, but in the second half, it held the Broncs to 10-25 from the field, and 10 less points than the Gamecocks. Carolina, on the other hand, scored 15 more points than in the first half, finishing the second with 40 points.
South Carolina held off the Broncs for the remainder of the game, capping in a victory.
“It takes our brand, our team, to a different part of the state,” Martin said. “It’s our way of saying thanks to the fans that we have ... and bringing our product to them; give them a chance to see us play without having to drive two-and-a-half, three hours.”
South Carolina heads to Conway to play Coastal Carolina Wednesday night. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.