Playing its second game in three days against contrasting styles, South Carolina coach Frank Martin was concerned about his young team being exposed by a couple of seasoned opponents.
That wouldn’t be the case.
Sindarius Thornwell scored 20 points and PJ Dozier added 15 as the Gamecocks cruised to an 81-49 victory over Holy Cross on Sunday evening in the first game of the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational.
“I couldn’t have asked our guys to play any better today,” Martin said.
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Thornwell was 4 of 6 on 3-pointers and added five rebounds with no turnovers. Dozier was 3 of 6 from long range as the Gamecocks finished 12 of 24 from beyond the arc and shot 58.7 percent from the field.
Nine players scored as South Carolina (2-0) went deep into its bench with 12 players seeing action. Thornwell thought that was a big boost.
“It showed that everyone came in focused and ready to play. Even the bench, the guys that came in the last three or four minutes, locked in and did what coach asked them to do,” he said. “When everybody is making shots and being aggressive, it’s hard for any team to be guarded.”
The Gamecocks allowed a few backdoor cuts in the first half, but made adjustments in the second half. The Crusaders (0-1) were an NCAA Tournament team last season and returned almost their entire roster, but couldn’t match South Carolina.
“As the game settled down, we changed defenses and kept them out of rhythm,” Martin said.
NOTE: Freshman Sedee Keita missed his second straight contest with an injured wrist.
South Carolina used a 13-3 late in the first half to take control. The Gamecocks led 31-26 with 4:36 remaining in the half before Duane Notice, Dozier and Thornwell drilled 3-pointers to give USC some cushion. The guard trio scored all 13 points in the run and held a 44-32 lead at the break
“We needed that momentum shift to carry us into the second half,” Dozier said. “We traded buckets for a long time, but to get that run was good for us.”
Star of the game: Thornwell again had a solid outing. His 20 points, five rebounds and two blocks came without committing a turnover after he had six in the season opener.
Play of the game: Thornwell missed a layup, but Jarrell Holliman got the rebound and Notice connected on a 3-pointer to give South Carolina a 36-26 lead late in the first half. It never got less than 10 points the rest of the way.
Stat of the game: The Gamecocks shot 50 percent from 3-point range (12 of 24) and 93.8 percent on free throws (15 of 16).
FROM THE BASELINE
Big needed: Maik Kotsar and Chris Silva combined to score four points with three rebounds in the first half when they each collected two early fouls. Silva finished with nine points and eight rebounds and Kotsar added six points and three rebounds because they were able to stay on the floor in the second half. Martin said they need to find a way to keep the big guys on the floor because they add a much-needed defensive presence.
Who: South Carolina vs. Monmouth
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Colonial Life Arena
TV: SEC+ Network