Sessions nets career-high 15 to lead Lady Gamecocks

Myrtle Beach High product Khadijah Sessions scored a career-high 15 points to lead No. 19 South Carolina to a 52-44 road win over Florida on Sunday afternoon.

The Gamecocks (16-3, 4-2 SEC) captured the road victory behind 59 rebounds, the most during head coach Dawn Staley’s tenure, and a defensive effort that held Florida to just 17 field goals. While the starters were strong,

The first half was physical, especially inside as both teams were determined to get to the basket. Ashley Bruner got the scoring going early for the Gamecocks, hitting the team’s first two baskets, and Tiffany Mitchell put South Carolina on top 6-4 with a runner in transition five minutes into the contest.

While the Gamecocks suffered through a three-minute scoring drought from there, the South Carolina defense had the Gators mired in a five-minute scoreless stretch that allowed the lead to expand to 12-4 behind a pair of 3-pointers from Khadijah Sessions.

The second half started with Florida attacking the rim and finally finding success there. The Gators tied the game 35-35 with 12:10 left, but the Gamecocks answered with a 10-0 run that included a series of blocks from Elem Ibiam.

Sessions, a true freshman, hit another 3 to get the surge going, and after an offensive rebound, Bruner drove the baseline for a basket. Welch completed a traditional three-point play on the next possession, and a defensive rebound let Bruner run out for a transition layup to make it 45-35 with 9:36 to play.

Once again, the Gators clawed back behind drives to the basket while the Gamecocks struggled from the free throw line, leading to a nine-minute scoreless stretch. But the defense managed to turn back Florida when it mattered most. After closing to 42-45 with 3:06 on the clock, Florida saw the Gamecocks clean up back-to-back missed 3-pointers. South Carolina was charged with an offensive foul with under a minute to go, but again an errant 3-pointer found its way to a Gamecock to end the possession.

The Gators began sending the Gamecocks to the free throw line, but to no avail. Bruner missed the second of her attempts, but Aleighsa Welch soared in for the rebound to extend the possession in the final minute. Mitchell’s pair of free throws all but sealed the game with a five-point lead and just 15 seconds to play.

Welch and Mitchell each grabbed double-digit rebounds, reeling in 12 and 11, respectively. Eight of Welch’s came on the offensive end to tie her career high. Bruner finished the night with 14 points and nine rebounds in the victory.

The Gamecocks return to Colonial Life Arena for a 7 p.m. game against No. 5/5 Kentucky on Thu.

Photo courtesy of UF Athletics

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