Things continue to go Carolina's way in paradise. The Gamecocks controlled their semifinal bout with Hofstra on Sunday night despite red-hot shooting at times from the Pride. USC's 94-84 win puts them in Monday's 2015 Paradise Jam championship game against Tulsa.
Both teams shot well the entire game, but from different places on the floor. South Carolina used the inside presence of Laimonas Chatkevicius and Mindaugas Kacinas to hit six of their first 10 shots from the floor. However, Hofstra would connect from the outside, hitting four three-pointers in the first five minutes of Sunday's game from the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Pride held a 14-13 lead at the first media timeout but a 13-2 run by the Gamecocks out of the break would give USC a 10-point lead in the early going. The run by Carolina also coincided with a four-minute scoring drought for Hofstra.
South Carolina's lead would dwindle down to just two points as time ticked away in the first half. The Pride once again got hot from deep, led by senior guard Juan'ya Green. The preseason CAA Player of the Year would hit five of his first six three-point attempts, accounting for 19 of his team's first 32 points.
The unraveling into a 41-39 Gamecock lead would not last long as South Carolina was able to score the final five points of the half to secure a 46-39 halftime lead. During the break, the lights in the UVI Sports & Fitness Center would malfunction due to a power surge. Although dim, the refs stated the gym was still able to hold the second half.
Both teams would hit their first three shot attempts of the second half but the Pride would heat up from deep once again. A pair of treys from Ameen Tanksley would help Hofstra hit six three-pointers in the first nine minutes of the second half. They would take a 65-64 lead, just their second lead of the ball game.
Hofstra's 6-of-9 start in the second half would earn them a lead but it was quick one as Duane Notice buried a three-pointer of his own to give the lead back to South Carolina. Hofstra's Brian Bernardi would connect from deep to bring them within two but an unlikely pair shot the Gamecocks out in front.
Freshman P.J. Dozier and Chris Silva would combine to score the next seven points of the game to put South Carolina's lead at nine, where it would stay for most of the second half. Dozier's three-pointer and back-to-back buckets from Silva coincided with another four-minute scoring drought from Hofstra.
Despite a school record 17 three-pointers, Hofstra's two four-minute scoring droughts would be their downfall Sunday night. South Carolina's offense was able to keep pace, shooting 54.4 percent from the field and 55.6 percent three-point range.
For the second consecutive game, Kacinas led the Gamecocks in scoring, tallying 18 points in the win. Chatkevicius wasn't far behind as he produced 17 points to go along with five rebounds. Michael Carrera made both of his three-point attempts to also pour in 17 points. Thornwell's 14 points and Dozier's 12 made it so Carolina had all five its starters in double-figures on Sunday night.
The Gamecocks will now face Tulsa in the finals of this year's Paradise Jam. Tulsa beat Indiana State earlier in the day on Sunday to extend their record to 4-0 and clinch their shot at the title. That game will tip-off Monday night at 9:00 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.