The South Carolina women’s basketball team had quite the week and is serving notice to the rest of NCAA basketball. Let’s discuss.
The Gamecocks’s first game of the preseason was a visit from non-conference foe North Georgia Nighthawks on November 1 (All Souls Day), which was appropriate since South Carolina snatched the souls of the Nighthawks in a 112-48 shellacking in the Colonial Life Arena. This was the first time that fans were able to see the much-hyped South Carolina 2019 recruiting class consisting of Laeticia Amihare, Brea Beal, Aliyah Boston, Zia Cooke, and Olivia Thompson. They played as advertised: Amihare had 13 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal; Beal put up 11 points, 2 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals; Boston poured in 11 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 blocks, and 2 steals; Cooke scored 18 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals; while Thompson added 1 rebound, though her disruptive presence did not show up on the stat sheet. Seniors Tyasha “Ty” Harris and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan provided a steady leadership presence and led by example: Harris had 10 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals while Herbert Harrigan had 11 points, 8 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal.
The Gamecocks hosted the Alabama State Hornets in their first SEC game of the season on Nov. 5. As expected, South Carolina easily defeated their visitors 103-43 for their second win of the preseason. Beal got her first start of the preseason and put up 4 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Her fellow freshman completely dominated the game: Cooke put up 13 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, and 2 steals; Olivia Thompson put up 10 points and 1 assist; and Boston went off for her first double-double of the season with 12 points, 12 rebounds, 10 (!) blocks, and 3 steals. Harris (11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals) and Herbert Harrigan (13 points, 5 blocks, 1 block) set the tone as seniors to lead the team to a resounding victory. Every member of the team got playing time in the game and put up solid numbers off the bench: Henderson with 8 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals; freshman Laeticia Amihere with 6 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks); sophomore Elysa Wesolek with 7 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal; sophomore Victaria Saxton with 9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal; and junior Lele Grissett with 10 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and 2 steals.
The Gamecocks visited the No. 4 University of Maryland Terrapins (better known as “Terps”) on November 10 in a grudge rematch of the Terps’s 2018 smackdown of the Gamecocks (85-61, in case you forgot). Notable Terps in attendance at courtside were Kristi Toliver, member of the WNBA’s 2019 champion Washington Mystics and a member of Maryland’s 2006 NCAA championship team (she also won a championship with the Los Angeles Sparks and is currently an assistant coach with the NBA’s Washington Wizards); Alyssa Thomas, member of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun (who lost to the Mystics in the 2019 championship game 5); Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who plays alongside Toliver for the Mystics; and Crystal Langhorne, member of the 2018 WNBA champion Seattle Storm. All four players rank in the top five of Maryland’s all-time scoring leaders (numbers 5, 1, 4, and 2, respectively).
The former Terps were doomed to disappointment as the No. 8 Gamecocks handled Maryland handily, 63-54, for their third win of the preseason (and on ESPN, no less). South Carolina senior Tyasha “Ty” Harris (13 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) showed why she was named to the All-SEC First Team, and why Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley is most comfortable when the ball is in her hands. Sophomore Destanni Henderson put up solid minutes, but it was freshman Aliyah Boston who put the team on her back.
She was a destructive force in the paint and pretty much kept Maryland at bay single-handedly. She ended with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 5 blocks, and 1 assist. Her fellow freshmen Brea Beal added 8 points, 10 rebounds, 1 block, and 4 assists after starting her second game; and Zia Cooke poured in 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. Senior Mikiah Herbert Harrigan added a solid stats line with 8 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal. while sophomore Destanni Henderson provided 4 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 steal off the bench.
Ball Don’t Lie
Across three games, the 2019 recruiting class (freshmen Amihare, Beal, Boston, Cooke, and Thompson) have put up a collective 124 points, 67 rebounds, 20 assists, 26 blocks, and 12 steals.
The Next Contestants
The Gamecocks visit the University of Dayton Flyers on Nov. 13 (this game is not televised but Gamecocks can listen to it on the radio) before returning to South Carolina to host the Appalachian State Mountaineers on Nov. 17 in the Colonial Life Arena. Both games begin at 7:00 pm ET.
Thanks for stopping by.