Gamecocks work overtime to win Martin’s coaching debut

Brenton Williams scored 12 of his 14 points in overtime as South Carolina (1-0) overcame a 17-point deficit in the second half to defeat Wisconsin-Milwaukee 82-75 Sunday in Frank Martin’s debut as Gamecocks coach.

They trailed 40-23 early in the second half. But Carolina ended the period on a 26-12 run and tied things on two foul shots by freshman Mindaugas Kacinas to force the extra period.

Freshman forward Michael Carrera was stellar in the contest, posting a double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds. It marked the first double-double by a Gamecock freshman since the 2008 campaign. Kacinas also pulled down double-digit rebounds with 13, while adding eight points.

Senior transfer LaShay Page paced Carolina with 19 points, including 17 in the second half. Williams posted 14 points, including a perfect 8-of-8 performance from the free throw line in overtime.

Jordan Aaron had 28 points to lead the Panthers (1-1).

The teams traded baskets early in the first half before Kacinas assisted Williams on a layup underneath to give Carolina a 14-11 upperhand at the 12:38 mark.

The Panthers responded with an 8-0 run through the under-eight minute media timeout, before a lay-up from Carrera at the 6:21 mark halted the scoring drought for Carolina.

The difference in the first half was eight made 3’s from the Panthers, while the Gamecocks were 0-of-8 from beyond the arc. Carrera ended the half with a near double-double, scoring nine points and pulling down nine rebounds, but UWM held a 38-23 upperhand at the break.

Carolina started the second half on a 9-2 run, propelled by a lay-up and two jumpers from Page, which forced an early timeout from Milwaukee.

After the break, stellar play from the Gamecocks brought the score within four at 40-36. Carrera hit a pair of free throws before Kacinas blocked a shot at the opposite end and assisted on Page’s fifth made basket of the second half at the 14:32 mark.

Milwaukee extended its lead to 50-36 with 11:53 remaining, but the Gamecocks continued to battle.

The Gamecocks had cut Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s lead to 63-58 with 4:32 to go when Theirno Niang hit the team’s 13th 3-pointer to give them an eight-point cushion with under 4 minutes to go.

Kacinas began the final charge in regulation with an inside bucket, Carrera had a putback, and Eric Smith drove in for a layup to make it 66-64 with 1:18 to go.

After Niang missed a 3-point try, Kacinas found himself with the ball outside the 3-point line and time running down. He got fouled by Kyle Kelm on the long-range attempt and made 2-of-3 free throws to tie the game.

Carrera got things going in overtime with two foul shots as South Carolina moved in front for the first time since early in the opening half. Kacinas followed with two more foul shots before Williams took over.

The Gamecocks host Morgan State on Friday, Nov. 16. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

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