Dawn Staley not only brought the Gamecocks back to the NCAA Tournament this year; she brought them back in style, with her team notching an 80-48 victory over the Eastern Michigan Eagles. The game featured a dominant performance by the Gamecocks defense, as usual. We were able to hold EMU's Tavelyn James, one of the country's leading scorers, to 11 points on 2-17 shooting. What was a bit more surprising about Carolina's performance, though, was that our offense played so well, and that we didn't over-rely on La'Keisha Sutton and Iesia Grant in the process. Carolina shot an impressive 53% from the field in the route, and it got its front line involved more than usual, with Charanee Stephens scoring 11 on 5-8 shooting.
The Gamecocks will take on the Purdue Boilermakers in the second round. Purdue is a women's basketball blue-blood, having made the tournament all but two times since 1989 and having won a national title in 1999.
Purdue also enjoyed a fairly comfortable first-round win, 83-68 over South Dakota State. The win was highlighted by Purdue guard Courtney Moses's nine three pointers, an NCAA record.
I like this matchup for Carolina. The Boilermakers have an excellent backcourt and are known for their outside-shooting prowess. Their front line, though, is not as much of a strength. That plays right into our best asset, our perimeter defense. If we can disrupt Purdue's outside shooting, we should be able to dictate the style of play in this game. If we can do that and also get anything approaching the offensive performance we enjoyed today going, we can win this game and advance to the Sweet 16.
The bad news in this game is that it will be played on Purdue's home court, where the Boilermakers have only lost three times all year, each to ranked opponents. Why can't we ever have these things in Columbia, again? Oh, right.