While students went home for winter break, Gamecock athletics kept busy with continued success in women's basketball and diving, some rough sledding for men's basketball and a tough ending to the football season after losing the Gator Bowl.
The Gamecocks lost 13 players to the transfer portal, including key contributors in redshirt sophomore running back MarShawn Lloyd, junior tight-end Jaheim Bell and junior edge Jordan Burch.
Marcus Satterfield’s departure for Nebraska left the team without an offensive coordinator in the bowl game. On Dec. 13, the team announced Satterfield's replacement will be former Arkansas tight ends coach and experienced NFL coordinator Dowell Loggains.
The team lost 45-38 in a high-scoring Gator Bowl game against Notre Dame on Dec. 30. The Gamecocks jumped out to a 21-7 lead in the first quarter before the Fighting Irish fought their way back into the game.
In the two seasons under Beamer, the team has defied expectations and gone 15-11. Such accomplishments earned the coach a raise and contract extension, which was announced during a board of trustees meeting on Jan. 6
The new contract lasts until 2027 and pays an average yearly salary of $6.625 million, plus bonuses for bowl and conference or national championship appearances. The contract makes Beamer the highest-paid Gamecock coach in history.
“I am so fortunate to be the football coach at the University of South Carolina. I’m very proud of what we’ve done the last two seasons, but it’s just the beginning. The best days of Gamecock football are about to happen,” Beamer said following the contract approval.
The team finished the season with an 8-5 record. The Gamecocks now start their offseason and begin looking in the transfer portal and their incoming class for players to fill the void of its key departures.
Both men’s and women’s basketball wrapped up non-conference play, which led to the holding of their SEC openers. The Gamecock women’s team remains No. 1 in the country with a 16-0 record, while the men’s team sits at 7-8 while trying to find its footing.
The women’s team played two in-state opponents over the break. First, the team beat Charleston Southern 87-23, earning a season-low in points allowed. Three days later, the team defeated Coastal Carolina 102-39 and set a new season high in points scored.
The play of senior forward Aliyah Boston and senior guard Zia Cooke earned them spots on the midseason Wooden top 25 list. Cooke leads the team in scoring with 14.9 points per game, and Boston is averaging 11.5 points and nine rebounds.
Head coach Dawn Staley earned The Athletic’s Women’s College Basketball Person of the Year award. The Athletic cited her positive impact on women’s sports as the reason she was chosen.
On the men’s side, freshman forward Gregory "GG" Jackson II has continued to show why he once stood as the No. 1 player in the class of 2023. Jackson earned two national Freshman of the Week honors over break and is averaging 16.9 points and 7.1 rebounds so far this season.
“For a young guy like that to have double-figures in every game we’ve played through 13 games, that’s difficult,” head coach Lamont Paris said after the team's win over Eastern Michigan on Dec. 30. “As we go into conference play, that’s going to be more difficult, so I don’t doubt that he’ll do it, but the question will be, 'Will he do it efficiently?.'”
Jackson's double-digit scoring streak was snapped Saturday during the team's loss to Tennessee. Jackson struggled, going 0-8 from the field and failing to score a point.
Swimming and Diving
The diving team competed in the Georgia Diving Invitational over break. The team had athletes in every event final, capturing first place in two and setting a school record in another.
Graduate diver Brooke Schultz competed in the women’s 1-meter and 3-meter final and earned first place in both with scores of 325.45 and 362.10. Shcultz's 1-meter win marked her fifth springboard sweep of the season.
In the men’s platforms, senior diver Manny Vazquez Bas broke the school record for points. He scored 410.15 to beat his previous record of 403.95, which earned him a bronze medal at the 2022 SEC Championships. His average score in Athens was 68.36 to finish just 4.65 points behind the event winner. Vazquez Bas also finished second place in the men’s 3-meter dive.
Overall, the Gamecocks totaled six podium finishes.
“I am extremely proud of our divers' performances this week,” head diving coach Michael Wright said. “This week offered an opportunity to compete prelims and finals multiple days in a row similar to what SEC Championships will be like.”
The swimming and diving team's next competition will be a senior meet at home against Georgia on Jan. 14. Diving will begin at 10 a.m. followed by swimming at 11 a.m.
A number of teams announced their spring playing schedules as well.
The baseball team finalized its schedule by announcing its non-conference opponents. The season will begin at home with a three-game series against UMass Lowell on Feb. 17-19.
The team will play its annual three-game series against Clemson starting March 3 at Clemson. The second game will be played at Fluor Field in Greenville, and the series will conclude on March 5 at Founders Park.
The Gamecocks will also play two games at Truist Field in Charlotte — first on March 21 against Charlotte and again on April 4 against UNC Chapel Hill.
The Gamecock softball team also finalized its schedule by announcing its 2023 non-conference schedule. The team opens its season playing five games in Charlotte for the Charlotte Invitational on Feb. 9-12.
The team’s first home game will be on Feb. 15 against the College of Charleston. The next day, South Carolina will begin its first of two home tournaments with the Carolina Classic on Feb.16-19. The team will then host the Gamecock invitational from March 3-5.
The No. 4 ranked women’s golf team announced its spring schedule, which will kick off with a trip to the Bahamas for the Nexus Collegiate Invitational. The team will host the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate Tournament from Feb. 27-March 1. Postseason play will begin on April 12 with the SEC tournament.
The men’s tennis team earned a spot in the preseason poll at No. 10. It announced its schedule, which began with a visit to Miami Jan. 5-8. The team will host Pennsylvania, N.C. State and VCU during the ITA Kickoff Weekend Jan. 28-29. South Carolina will end out-of-conference play against Wake Forest Feb. 12.
“We have an amazing home schedule this year, and the team is really looking forward to competing in front of our amazing fans once again,” men's tennis head coach Josh Goffi said.