Lady Gamecocks roll in first round of NCAA Tournament

No. 25 South Carolina shook off an early start and used its trademark defense to generate the season’s best offensive output in an 80-48 win over Eastern Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday afternoon at Mackey Arena.

The fifth seed in the Fresno Region, the Gamecocks (24-9) posted their season-high 80 points thanks to season highs in assists (22) and blocks (11) and 53.3 percent field goal shooting. The defense held up its end as well, holding the Eagles (23-9) to 26.7 percent shooting.

“I thought we represented out University extremely well,” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said. “[Playing in the SEC] put us in a position to play in an environment like this, which is a big environment. It’s a big stage for our basketball team, and I thought we executed from the very tip of the ball.”

South Carolina got off to a slow start but got the offense going the way they have all season – creating turnovers. Three-pointers were holding up the Gamecock offense early with Markeshia Grant and Courtney Newton each hitting one, but otherwise shots were not falling.

Meanwhile, Eastern Michigan came out on fire, shooting 62.5 percent in the game’s first five minutes to take a 12-8 lead at the first media time out. The lead grew to 14-8 before South Carolina settled in on both ends of the floor.

La’Keisha Sutton opened things up with a transition layup then showed off her SEC All-Defensive Team status by winning a one-on-one battle to stop a transition layup on the other end. South Carolina started going inside more on offense with Ashley Bruner picking up the next two baskets.

Another Eastern Michigan turnover yielded a pair of free throws for Ieasia Walker, and the Gamecocks had a 16-14 lead with just under 11 minutes left in the half.

The Eagles tied it up with a move on the left block from Paige Redditt, but the Gamecocks went right back to work. Grant hit a pair of free throws after being fouled on a layup attempt following her steal at midcourt. Stephens added a free throw as well when she was fouled going after a rebound.

EMU leading scorer Tavelyn James stopped the run briefly with a free throw, but South Carolina’s inside game was clicking. Bruner put back a rebound then Stephens finished off a nice baseline pass from Tina Roy and sank a baseline jumper for a 25-17 Gamecock advantage with 7:53 to play in the period.

Eastern Michigan scored on back-to-back plays, but the momentum had clearly swung in the Gamecocks’ favor. Sutton added to the lead with a transition layup, which sparked a 12-2 lead that was actually manufactured on the other end of the floor.

Four turnovers and one-shot possessions were the story of the last six minutes of the half. While shutting down the Eagles, the Gamecock post players were piling up point. Roy put an exclamation point on the half with a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to give South Carolina a 39-23 advantage in the locker room.

The Gamecocks kept their foot on the gas early in the second half, quickly extending their lead to 26 points. The Eagles drew no closer than that after the first five minutes of the final stanza as South Carolina’s aggressive defense and deep bench sapped their energy and affected every shot.

For the third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the Gamecocks won their first game at the event. Grant led the offense with 12 points, while Stephens and Bruner joined her with 11 and 10, respectively. Bruner’s seven rebounds led the way with Stephens and Walker adding six apiece.

Sutton and Walker combined for 11 of the team’s 22 assists, handing out six and five, respectively. Elem Ibiam’s five blocked shots tied the South Carolina freshman single-game record and is the most by any Gamecock in an NCAA Tournament game.

South Carolina will play Purdue on Monday at 7 p.m.

Week 0: Chiefs top Tigers; Sharks beat Lions at horn

Week 0: Chiefs top Tigers; Sharks beat Lions at hornMatt Reel sighed more than once when talking about his [more]

Chiefs try to stay hungry, humble in title repeat bid

Chiefs try to stay hungry, humble in title repeat bidThe only thing harder than winning a state championship is [more]

Stormy weather big winner at CNB Kickoff Classic

Stormy weather big winner at CNB Kickoff ClassicTwo blowouts, a lightning delay and ultimately three of the [more]

Coast FA boys kick off fall season with strong outing

Coast FA boys kick off fall season with strong outingFive Coast FA boys teams entered the Charlotte Invitational over [more]

Hemingway follows family, teammates to Gamecocks

Hemingway follows family, teammates to GamecocksSix minutes after his youngest child had announced his college [more]

MB Track & Field Club set for cross country season

MB Track & Field Club set for cross country seasonBuilding on the success of the track and field season, [more]

Seahawks, Trojans, Chiefs in preseason football poll

Seahawks, Trojans, Chiefs in preseason football pollDefending state champion Myrtle Beach opened the 2019 preseason as [more]

Ten beach games that add fun to the sand, surf, sun

Ten beach games that add fun to the sand, surf, sunThe Grand Strand’s 60-mile strip of sand and surf is [more]

New blood infuses lineup for '19 Beach Ball Classic

New blood infuses lineup for '19 Beach Ball ClassicIt’s been quite some time since this much new blood [more]

Gray becomes first Chant to win SCGA Amateur title

Gray becomes first Chant to win SCGA Amateur titleCoastal Carolina rising sophomore Tyler Gray carded four-straight rounds of [more]

Renfrow comes full circle before making run at NFL

Renfrow comes full circle before making run at NFLThe past six months have been hectic ones for Hunter [more]

Surfoff makes waves for fun times, worthy cause

Surfoff makes waves for fun times, worthy causeThe water is a second home for August Powalie. The Myrtle [more]

Jordans go coast to coast for Junior Olympics meet

Jordans go coast to coast for Junior Olympics meetIt has been a long and winding trip to California [more]

Six former Pelicans make big-league leap to Cubs

Six former Pelicans make big-league leap to Cubs The distance from Myrtle Beach’s TicketReturn.com Stadium to Chicago’s Wrigley [more]

Local teams look ahead to 30th CNB Kickoff Classic

Local teams look ahead to 30th CNB Kickoff ClassicConway National Bank will sponsor the 30th annual CNB Kickoff [more]

CAC swimmers team up to capture six state titles

CAC swimmers team up to capture six state titlesSouth Carolina Swimming welcomed almost 800 swimmers from 25 Swim [more]

Surfers hang 10 for 20th Guy Daniels Memorial

Surfers hang 10 for 20th Guy Daniels MemorialAs surfers prepare to hit the South Strand this weekend [more]

Six MBTFC athletes make National Junior Olympics

Six MBTFC athletes make National Junior OlympicsThe Myrtle Beach Track & Field Club was represented by [more]

Beach volleyball growing on Grand Strand sand

Beach volleyball growing on Grand Strand sandWhat was once a leisurely pick-up game on the beach [more]

NMB boys hoops hopeful Walker in it for long haul

NMB boys hoops hopeful Walker in it for long haulNorth Myrtle Beach believes Ryan Walker is the person to [more]

Injury halts former Chant La Stella's All-Star debut

Injury halts former Chant La Stella's All-Star debut Former Coastal Carolina standout and Los Angeles Angels second baseman [more]

Pelicans well represented at All-Star Futures Game

Pelicans well represented at All-Star Futures GameMyrtle Beach Pelicans’ catcher Miguel Amaya has been selected to [more]

Baseball bonds all ages at Legends for Youth Clinic

Baseball bonds all ages at Legends for Youth ClinicEight former big leaguers - and about 60 aspiring ones [more]

Jordans lead MBTFC to wins at Junior Olympics

Jordans lead MBTFC to wins at Junior OlympicsThe Myrtle Beach Track & Field Club was represented by [more]

Hunter brings new energy to MB volleyball program

Hunter brings new energy to MB volleyball program New Myrtle Beach High volleyball coach Alyssa Hunter knows she [more]

Week 0: Chiefs top Tigers; Sharks beat Lions at horn

Week 0: Chiefs top Tigers; Sharks beat Lions at hornMatt Reel sighed more than once when talking about his [more]

Chiefs try to stay hungry, humble in title repeat bid

Chiefs try to stay hungry, humble in title repeat bidThe only thing harder than winning a state championship is [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2019 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach