While the Gamecocks were never truly out of the game, they weren’t much of a threat to win it, either. Stony Brook held a 33-32 halftime advantage after the teams essentially battled to a draw, with the Seawolves shooting an ice cold 27 percent from the floor and the Gamecocks posting a poor performance from the free-throw line. Things didn’t change much in the second half — for South Carolina, at least. Stony Brook finally started hitting some of those open looks, and ultimately shot 46% from 3-point land to doom any chance of a Gamecocks comeback.
Perhaps most disturbingly, South Carolina was out-rebounded 49-33, which is a huge no-no for a Frank Martin team. The Gamecocks also left a lot of points at the free-throw line, missing 14 of their 26 foul shots, and just couldn’t string together stops when they needed to. The defensive issues were likely exacerbated by Maik Kotsar and Chris Silva landing in early foul trouble, and the latter never returned to the game after picking up his fourth foul with nearly 10 minutes left. That was an interesting decision by coach Frank Martin, especially when South Carolina started closing the gap late.
On the bright side, freshman A.J. Lawson led the Gamecocks with 23 points, and fellow rookie Tre Campbell posted 15 and a couple clutch 3-pointers. Justin Minaya was the only other player in double figures (11), though Keyshawn Bryant came close with nine points. Silva posted a disappointing seven-point, two-rebound performance, and Kotsar (also with seven points) was kept off the glass entirely. Not exactly what South Carolina needs out of its veteran big men.
South Carolina (1-1) hosts Norfolk State at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, which is another game in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Tip-Off event.