Sessions, Lady Gamecocks knock off No. 5 Kentucky

Myrtle Beach High product and Lady Gamecocks freshman Khadijah Sessions scored eight points and helped spark a critical late run as No. 18 South Carolina outlasted No. 5 Kentucky 55-50 in a hard-fought, physical battle at the Colonial Life Arena.

Gamecock senior guard Ieasia Walker played every second of the contest and carried her team to the program’s highest ranked victory since 1998, finishing with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and a blocked shot. Sophomore center Elem Ibiam also reeled in eight boards, largely during a second-half surge that pushed the Gamecocks (17-3, 5-2 SEC) into the driver’s seat in the game.

“The crowd was a huge lift for us when we weren’t scoring as much as we’d like, but we were still getting good looks,” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said. “Sometimes it’s exhausting to play as hard as we play defensively, and it takes the wind out of you. I really think the crowd put the life back in us, and we made some big plays down the stretch. We just fed off the energy that was in the building.”

The Gamecock defense, highlighted by strong rebounding on the defensive glass held Kentucky under control early in the game until the offense found a rhythm midway through the first half. Ibiam got a 9-0 run started with her basket that was followed by back-to-back buckets from Walker, starting with a transition layup and ending with a pull-up jumper that tied the score at 12-12 with 5:58 left in the period. Aleighsa Welch added a free throw and Khadijah Sessions turned a steal into an easy layup to put the Gamecocks up 15-12 with four minutes to go. Kentucky looked to rally behind a pair of buckets from Jennifer O’Neill, but the teams went to the locker room tied 19-19.

Coming out at the half the teams continued to keep the score tight. The Wildcats opened with a 6-0 run that the Gamecocks answered with a 7-0 spurt that included a Tiffany Mitchell 3-pionter, a Welch basket and a transition layup from Walker that put South Carolina back on top 26-25 less than four minutes into the final period.

The teams traded the lead seven times over the next four minutes until the Wildcats took advantage of consecutive turnovers to stretch their advantage to 40-34 with 11:37 on the clock. Once again, South Carolina had the answer. A Walker steal turned into an Ashley Bruner transition layup, and a Welch steal yielded a pair of free throws from Walker to pull within two at 40-38.

A DeNesha Stallworth drive only briefly interrupted what would turn out to be a 10-2 Gamecock surge. Ibiam’s putback kicked off the last of the run, and it was followed by one from Welch. A pair of missed opportunities at the free throw line kept the Wildcats scoreless, and Sessions hit a baseline floater to make it a 44-42 South Carolina advantage with 6:01 to play.

A pair of A’dia Mathies free throws tied the game for the sixth time, 44-44, with 5:53 on the clock, but the Gamecocks were running again as their aggressive defense wore down and frustrated the visiting Wildcats. Ibiam took a lob underneath and made a strong move to the bucket to open up an 8-0 run. Her powerful defensive rebound on the next possession set the tone down the stretch.

After missing the front end of a 1-and-1, Bruner hit a free throw on the next trip up the floor. Sessions converted another transition layup to stretch the lead to five, and after a defensive rebound by Walker, Welch converted a traditional three-point play for an eight-point edge, 52-44 with 3:32 to go.

The Wildcats kept after it, forcing back-to-back turnovers, but the Gamecocks continued to force them into just one shot per possession, making it difficult to make up ground quickly. Mathies tried to carry her team to the win, scoring Kentucky’s last six points, but it was not enough as the Gamecocks sealed the game at the free throw line in the final 22 seconds.

“All the credit needs to go to South Carolina tonight,” Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “…South Carolina came out extremely physical, and we just didn’t respond in a manner that would allow us to win this game. They made all the hustle plays and were really tough tonight. …They just played really good D and were committed to stopped [A’dia Matheis] and really just all-around fantastic defense. I don’t know that that is extraordinary for a team like South Carolina who is so good on defense.”

Walker’s 16 points led the way, and Welch added 11, including eight in the second half. The Gamecocks out-scored the Wildcats 30-18 in the paint and forced 18 turnovers to help hold Kentucky just short of 30 points below its season average. South Carolina shot 50.0 percent from the field in the second half and hit 10 free throws to deliver the victory.

The Gamecocks go back on the road this weekend, heading to Arkansas for a 3 p.m. tipoff on Sun., Jan. 27.

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

Comments

comments

Chants on break for finals week after loss to Terriers

Chants on break for finals week after loss to TerriersSophomore Tre Brown had a career and team-high 24 points, [more]

CAC swimmers post hot times at Snowflake Invite

CAC swimmers post hot times at Snowflake InviteThe Coastal Aquatic Club (CAC) spent the weekend in Rock [more]

Knox's triple-double lifts Seahawks past Panthers

Knox's triple-double lifts Seahawks past Panthers Myrtle Beach High sophomore Emorie Knox hit a major milestone [more]

CAC's Steele captures gold at Winter Junior Nationals

CAC's Steele captures gold at Winter Junior NationalsCarolina Forest senior and Coastal Aquatic Club standout Taylor Steele [more]

SEAHAWKS STORM PAST GREER FOR STATE TITLE

SEAHAWKS STORM PAST GREER FOR STATE TITLE Over the summer, the Myrtle Beach players were gathered inside [more]

Green Sea Floyds captures first state championship

Green Sea Floyds captures first state championshipFacing fourth down and a sneaker, Green Sea Floyds coach [more]

Hoops: Sharks beat buzzer, Warriors on late foul shots

Hoops: Sharks beat buzzer, Warriors on late foul shotsThe St. James High boys basketball team won a thriller [more]

Schools send football team to state with Seahawk Walk

Schools send football team to state with Seahawk WalkThe Myrtle Beach High football team received a hero's send-off [more]

Hoops: Myrtle Beach boys double up rival Socastee

Hoops: Myrtle Beach boys double up rival SocasteeThe Myrtle Beach High boys basketball team doubled up rival [more]

Seahawks' strange season takes a final twist to state

Seahawks' strange season takes a final twist to stateMickey Wilson has led his team to state championship games [more]

Hoops: NMB boys, CF girls fall short in comeback bids

Hoops: NMB boys, CF girls fall short in comeback bidsWhat appeared to be a pair of lopsided affairs turned [more]

MB's shot at state crown moved to Friday afternoon

MB's shot at state crown moved to Friday afternoonGame time has been moved up a day for the [more]

Socastee product Renfrow titled nation's top walk-on

Socastee product Renfrow titled nation's top walk-onThe Burlsworth Foundation announced Monday that wide receiver Hunter Renfrow [more]

Sun Belt puts 5 in bowls after inaugural title game

Sun Belt puts 5 in bowls after inaugural title gameAfter a thrilling 30-19 win by Appalachian State over Louisiana [more]

Gamecocks get close bowl trip to Charlotte vs. Cavs

Gamecocks get close bowl trip to Charlotte vs. CavsSouth Carolina football fans won't have to travel far to [more]

No. 2 Tigers in high Cotton for bowl game against Irish

No. 2 Tigers in high Cotton for bowl game against IrishThe College Football Playoff and the Goodyear Cotton Bowl announced [more]

Hoops: Conway wins; NMB gives female coach first win

Hoops: Conway wins; NMB gives female coach first winThe Conway High boys basketball team came down from its [more]

Seahawks flip the script on No. 1 Hartsville in rematch

Seahawks flip the script on No. 1 Hartsville in rematch Myrtle Beach exorcised its biggest demon from the 2018 regular [more]

Green Sea Floyds transitions from struggles to state final

Green Sea Floyds transitions from struggles to state finalAs the clock ticked toward zero, Josh Slobodiak searched for [more]

Chants go cold during key stretch, fall to Gamecocks

Chants go cold during key stretch, fall to GamecocksZac Cuthbertson recorded his fourth double-double of the season, but [more]

Gunter tops seven Chants earning Sun Belt awards

Gunter tops seven Chants earning Sun Belt awardsCoastal Carolina football had three players earn all-conference accolades and [more]

Seahawks eye redemption in rematch with Hartsville

Seahawks eye redemption in rematch with HartsvilleThe film was nearly as painful as the game itself. A [more]

Hoops: CF rolls past NMB; Conway tops Wilson in OT

Hoops: CF rolls past NMB; Conway tops Wilson in OTThe Carolina Forest boys basketball team opened the season Tuesday [more]

Williams nets honor after carrying CCU to big wins

Williams nets honor after carrying CCU to big wins Junior guard DJ Williams of the Coastal Carolina women’s basketball [more]

Conway-Wilson highlights high school hoops' tip-off

Conway-Wilson highlights high school hoops' tip-offThe high school basketball season officially tips off Tuesday, highlighted [more]

Chants on break for finals week after loss to Terriers

Chants on break for finals week after loss to TerriersSophomore Tre Brown had a career and team-high 24 points, [more]

CAC swimmers post hot times at Snowflake Invite

CAC swimmers post hot times at Snowflake InviteThe Coastal Aquatic Club (CAC) spent the weekend in Rock [more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2018 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach