Ex-Braves coach D’Antoni’s Herd falls to Gamecocks

dantoniEx-Socastee High basketball coach and now Marshall University head coach Dan D’Antoni got a few visitors from his former home state on Monday as South Carolina claimed a 77-59 victory over the Thundering Herd.

D’Antoni spent 30 seasons at Socastee before a stint as an NBA assistant and returning to coach at his alma mater. In his first season, the Herd is off to a 3-4 start, while the Gamecocks improved to 4-3.

In their first true road test of the season, the Gamecocks aced the test on both ends of the floor. Bolstered by a career-high 27 points from Duane Notice and a 41-20 advantage in points in the paint, the team led for nearly the entire game.

The Carolina defense hounded the Herd in the first half, limiting the home side to just seven percent from long range (1-of-14). Marshall wouldn’t fare much better from inside as it hit just 5-of-29 attempts overall in the first 20 minutes. The Gamecocks would counter with a two-man attack offensively to carry the team early on.

Notice scored the team’s first seven points of the game on a wide array of shots, from a pair of free throws to open the scoring to a layup that capped his one-man run and gave the team an early 7-3 lead. His efforts were the impetus for a 13-0 run that helped the Gamecocks seize a 15-3 lead. Laimonas Chatkevicius joined in on the offense to help the team extend that lead, each scoring 13 points as Carolina ran out to a 39-20 halftime lead.

The defensive intensity would not stay in the locker room after the break, with nine more turnovers forced. The Herd would shoot a respectable 40 percent in the final half, but still lacked the interior defense to slow down Carolina and relied on the charity stripe to score a third of its 39 second-half points. Despite a 1-of-9 second half from three, the Gamecocks scored on 13-of-20 two-point field goals in 20 minutes.

The closest Marshall would come in the second half was 16 points. When it managed to even get that close, an 8-0 run coming off a trio of Marshall turnovers gave Carolina a 61-37 lead with ten minutes left to play in the game, its largest of the day.

Along with Notice and Chatkevicius, who finished with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, Justin McKie and Sindarius Thornwell also scored in double figures. After setting or matching his career high in two of the last three games, McKie set an even higher mark with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Thornwell combined his ten points with a team-high ten rebounds for his third career double-double.

On the defensive side, the Gamecocks forced 19 turnovers and held Marshall to 28 percent overall and 19 percent from three. The 20 first-half points allowed by Carolina were the least so far this season.

Photo courtesy of MU Athletics

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