CHARLOTTE - It took Kelsey Bone a half to get cranked up Monday, but South Carolina's highly touted freshman was a force once she got going.
In her first college game, the 6-foot-5 Bone scored the Gamecocks' first nine points of the second half and the final five in overtime as USC held off Charlotte 70-66 at Halton Arena.
Bone, a Houston native and the nation's No. 2 prospect as a high school senior, notched a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds to help USC (1-0) overcome an 11-point halftime deficit and beat the 49ers (0-2) for the 10th time in their past 11 meetings.
"After all the hype, it's still basketball," Bone said. "You still have to step out on the floor and produce."
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USC received huge production from another newcomer. Shooting guard Valerie Nainima knocked down four 3-pointers and scored 22 points in her first game after sitting out last season following her transfer from Long Island University.
Shannon McCallum had a game-high 25 points to lead Charlotte, which made the NCAA tournament last season after winning the Atlantic 10 tourney.
Charlotte ended the first half on a 21-6 run to lead 31-20 at the break. The Gamecocks had 14 first-half turnovers, including eight from their starting backcourt.
That did not sit well with second-year coach Dawn Staley, who won three Olympic gold medals as the point guard for the U.S. national team
Asked what she said to her team at halftime, Staley said, "Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep" - mimicking the sound effect used by TV networks to cover up profanities.
"I had to get some things off my chest," Staley said. "Because that team was not going to represent the University of South Carolina that way."
"You need that sometimes," Bone said of Staley's fiery speech. "After the first-half horror story that we played, we needed that."
After going 2-of-9 in the first half, Bone pumped in three quick baskets and three free throws as USC started the second half with a 17-5 run to get back into it.
Charlotte coach Karen Aston, who recruited Bone as a ninth-grader when Aston was a Texas assistant, warned her team at halftime that the Gamecocks would try to get Bone rolling. But Aston said the 49ers were not as aggressive with their defensive pressure, and Bone took advantage of her matchup with 6-3 freshman Jennifer Hailey.
"She asserted herself the first five minutes of the second half," Aston said of Bone. "That was the difference in the game. It got her going and got her confident."
Staley began subbing early in the second half to give Bone a break on the defensive end and keep her out of foul trouble. The quicker lineup also gave the Gamecocks a lift defensively as the 49ers missed 11 of their first 12 shots after halftime.
Ebony Wilson and Lauren Falohun did not attempt a shot between them, but the backup guards came off the bench and gave USC a defensive pick-me-up with their energy.
Meanwhile, Nainima kept draining clutch 3-pointers whenever the 49ers would sag in the middle to help with Bone.
"It's my role on the team," Nainima said. "If I'm open, coach has given me so much freedom to shoot it. I wanted to deliver for this team."
Both teams had a chance to win at the end of regulation. Nainima's pass to Bone in the paint was picked off, but Charlotte's Ashley Spriggs missed an off-balance jumper as time expired.
USC never trailed in overtime after point guard Samone Kennedy started the extra session with a 3-pointer. And then Bone finished it with a bucket on a nice give-and-go with Nainima, a put-back and a free throw with 6.2 seconds left that made it a two-possession game.
"There was nobody in the gym that was better than Kelsey Bone," Staley said. "So we've got to get her the ball in places where she could be effective."
In the second half, that was just about anywhere Bone touched it.