The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: South Carolina women's basketball takes win over Mississippi State in SEC home opener

The Gamecocks women's basketball team locked in a win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs Sunday afternoon, holding onto its undefeated record. The team kept the lead in all four periods, ending the Jan. 7 match with a score of 89-66. Bree Hall scored 15 points, helping to close an uncomfortably close margin in the third quarter with assistance during the rest of the game from Kamilla Cardoso, who scored 13 points. Up next, the Gamecocks are scheduled to face Missouri Thursday on the road.

The South Carolina women’s basketball team defeated Mississippi State 85-66 in its SEC home opener Sunday. The team utilized steller team defense and different scoring outputs to help the team remain undefeated. 

But head coach Dawn Staley said after the game that the team's standard was not met. South Carolina missed 20 layups, 11 turnovers and gave up 22 offensive rebounds to the Bulldogs. 


“We did enough to win the basketball game but probably not enough to win this league,” head coach Dawn Staley said. “We played undisciplined and uncharacteristically on both sides of the basketball.”

South Carolina's defense played a major role. The Bulldogs shot 52.9% in the first quarter, but after some defensive adjustments by the Gamecocks, Mississippi State finished the game shooting 36% from the field and just 15.8 percent from behind the arc. 

Sophomore forward Ashlyn Watkins put up an impressive defensive performance as she posted three blocks and one steal. Watkins also made her presence felt on the offensive end with 9 points.

Scoring for the Gamecocks came in a variety of ways and from all sorts of players. In the first quarter, the team would shoot 9-10 from the free throw line, which helped take an early 26-21 lead. Later on in the second half, the Gamecocks focused on the perimeter and shot nine 3-pointers, making four of them. The team finished the game shooting 6-12 from behind the arc. 

Junior guard Bree Hall scored three of the team's six 3-pointers, helping her to tie her season-high of 15 points. Two of Hall’s makes in the third quarter helped strengthen the team's lead. 

It really goes back to my preparation before every game,” Hall said. “I’m getting shots up with (coach) Winston every day after practice, watching film with him, and I think it just really all starts there.”

Hall was not the only Gamecock who played a major role on offense as the team had four different players reach double-figures in points. Forwards such as sophomore Chloe Kitts scored key points in the paint, while guards like senior Te-Hina Paopao were able to hit several 3-pointers. 

Another standout player was senior center Kamilla Cardoso who continued to dominate as she scored 13 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. The game marked Cardoso’s eighth double-double of the 2023-24 season.

“I thought she did great. I thought it was different than her normal,” Staley said. “She did some step-throughs. She was aggressive. She took more shots than she normally would take in an aggressive manner, and I like it."

The Gamecocks will go back on the road to face the Missouri Tigers Thursday night. The game will tip off at 8 p.m. and will be broadcasted on SECN+.