Shooting 33% from the floor and turning it over 15 times usually is a recipe for losing a basketball game. When the other team just shoots 28%, you might consider yourself very fortunate.
That’s the situation the Gamecocks were in against #9 UCLA on Sunday afternoon. Despite going 22-66 from the field (1-3 from three-point range), they saw the Bruins shoot just 22-78 (an astonishing 4-27 from distance) in a 66-57 victory at Colonial Life Arena. South Carolina improved to 9-1 with the win while dropping UCLA to 8-2.
The Gamecocks struggled out of the gate as they scored just six points in the first quarter, recording more turnovers (five) than field goals (two) in the opening ten minutes. It got a little better in the second quarter despite a 15-8 deficit with 7:15 left, but a quick 6-0 spurt helped Carolina climb back into it and eventually make it a 26-26 ballgame at the break. After the Bruins took a 28-27 lead just 42 seconds into the third quarter, the Gamecocks mounted a 20-5 run - led by Alaina Coates and Bianca Cuevas-Moore to open up a 47-33 lead with 3:48 remaining in the frame. They would take the battle inside and maintain their lead in the fourth, scoring all but six of their seventeen points in the final stanza from the free-throw line.
Carolina placed four players in double figures - Alaina Coates (20), A’ja Wilson (13), Allisha Gray (11) and Cuevas-Moore (10). Coates scored 11 of the team’s 23 points in the third quarter, was 10-13 from the line despite the team going 21-32 total, while she and Wilson found themselves with double-doubles (14 boards for Coates; 13 for Wilson).
It was far from a work of art for South Carolina, but they’ll take it. They travel to Savannah State on Wednesday (7pm tip) before opening conference play against Alabama on New Years’ Day, after the Christmas break.