The first look at the second edition of the Dawn Staley era proved a welcome sight for USC women's basketball fans.
With the addition of high-profile newcomers, South Carolina romped to a 94-38 exhibition victory against Division II Augusta State at the Colonial Life Arena.
Kelsey Bone, a Parade All-American, had a double-double after the first shot of the second half. The Houston native finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
But she said she was nervous before the start.
"I was actually quite nervous," Bone said. "I talked to my Mom for about an hour before I had to be back to the gym because I couldn't get the jitters out. She just told me that I've played a lot of basketball and this was just another game."
Junior transfer Valerie Nainima from Long Island University knocked down six three-pointers in the opening 20 minutes. After starting 1-for-6 from long range, Nainima drilled five three-pointers in the final 4:22 of the first half. She added seven assists and six rebounds.
"I hadn't played in over a year, so it was a case of getting rid of the butterflies," Nainima said. "Coach (Lisa) Boyer told me to keep shooting and it just started to drop so I ran with it."
The Gamecocks' recruiting class was ranked as high as fourth in the country. Ashley Bruner, Ebony Wilson, and Ieasia Walker helped the five first-year players account for 53 points, 33 rebounds and 11 assists.
"All the newcomers that came in played well," Staley said. "They played accordingly to how we see them fitting into a certain role for our basketball team."
Charenee Stephens was one returner who impressed. The sophomore forward missed most of the first part of last year for personal reasons but ended up averaging 4.8 points a game. She was the first substitute in the game, and though undersized at 6-1 she collected 17 points and 8 rebounds.
The fresh faces worked so well that La'Keisha Sutton, the leading returner scorer for the Gamecocks last year at 11.0 points a game, did not score in the first half but finished with 11 points.
"We don't need Keisha to take some of the shots she took last year because we just didn't have any options," Staley said. "We have options this year."
None of the Gamecocks played more than 25 minutes or fewer than 14.
"We've been going against each other for so long to finally be able to come out and see different faces and have different people to take our frustrations out on was fun," Bone said.