South Carolina women’s basketball improves to 2-0 with a 72-41 victory over South Dakota behind strong defense throughout the game.
The Gamecocks delivered another stout defensive performance on the road, holding South Dakota to 25% shooting and just one make on 13 three-point shot attempts. Staley’s team recorded 10 blocks in the game and pulled down nearly twice as many rebounds as its opponent, 49 to 25.
“It’s a good start, but we have to be better,” head coach Dawn Staley said following the 31-point victory. The Gamecocks finished with 20 turnovers while only forcing nine, an area where Staley said she will look for continued improvement.
South Carolina opened the game with 10 straight points before its opponent scored and never trailed in the contest while outscoring the Coyotes in each quarter.
Senior guard Destanni Henderson led the way for the Gamecocks with 15 points, four of five shooting from three-point range, five rebounds and five assists.
“Now she’s had an entire year as our starting point guard, and she understands pushing the pace of the game and actually jump-starting our defense,” Staley said about Henderson. “So, it starts with her and her ability to apply pressure.”
Junior forward Aliyah Boston and senior forward Victaria Saxton led the defense in stifling the home team. Boston finished with four blocks and Saxton had three.
“I just feel like, again, we have to be disciplined and we have to contour our habits and we have to stay locked in, and no matter what offensively and defensively attack,” Henderson said after the victory.
Staley said she has confidence in her starting lineup but wants to see more from her bench rotation as the season progresses.
“We could play our starters 30 — 35 minutes and we’d be a pretty good basketball team, but if people want to break into the substitution pattern, they have to play better, they have to play a lot more disciplined,” Staley said.
Staley said her more experienced players, like Henderson and junior guard Zia Cooke, are also improving.
“They’re better. I mean they’re more connected. They’re more linked up. They have a better understanding of where each other are out there on the floor,” Staley said. “And I think it’s just maturity happens at this stage of their careers.”
The Gamecocks will return to Columbia for their home opener against Clemson on Nov. 17.