More like “K-D-K-Os.”
South Carolina junior guard Kaela Davis, in her first game in more than a year since transferring from Georgia Tech, cooked seventh-ranked Ohio State for 37 points Monday as the No. 4 Gamecocks won their season opener 92-80.
With USC’s A’ja Wilson and Alaina Coates nearly shut down by the Buckeyes’ aggressive zone defense, Davis and fellow transfer Allisha Gray shouldered their teammates and claimed the first of several top-25 prizefights this season.
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“I think tonight with Wilson getting in foul trouble early, that made it kind of difficult to get the ball inside,” Davis said. “Tonight was just one of those games where we kind of had to apply ourselves.”
It was no surprise for the Buckeyes (1-1) to sag into the paint, and the game quickly turned into a foul-for-foul contest (51 were called). Wilson couldn’t get it going, shooting a mere 1 for 3 for five points (she did block three shots) and while Coates had a double-double, the Gamecocks seemed timid.
That changed when Davis was handed the ball. Flashing inside after turnovers or scraping paint off the rafters with arching 3-pointers, OSU had no answer.
Every time the Buckeyes got close, Davis answered with a steal-and-score or a trip to the line. She was 13 of 16 from the stripe (USC was 26 of 41, which coach Dawn Staley tossed away as a “bad day”) and as OSU began to creep closer after Wilson fouled out, she and Gray took over.
The two scored the Gamecocks’ next 10 points, Gray closing the run with a 3 that quieted the crowd. She ended with 37 and added 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals.
OSU realized it could’ve been worse – Davis had four turnovers, the last where a basket was waved for charging.
“I was just excited,” she said. “There’s some nerves coming into it. Obviously having Ohio State away your first game back can be tough. I was excited to get here and get on the floor and play with this group of girls.”
Staley, who has constructed her program on working the ball inside, said she’s comfortable with having those kinds of weapons around her posts (Gray scored 24).
“We’re not going to be the team we were in the past years where the point guard actually controlled the tempo, everything worked through the point guard,” she said. “We’re going to play off what they do best.”
Ohio State cut the lead to four with more than eight minutes to play, but Gray hit a jumper, then a free throw. Davis had the next five points, with a moonshot 3 extending the lead to 12.
Star of the game: Davis. She might have flown the plane home.
Play of the game: Any one of Davis’ drives through the lane.
Stat of the game: It was two guards that led the way, but USC still scored 44 points in the paint.
FROM THE BASELINE
Glass: Coates missed some chippies, but had 13 rebounds. USC flexed its muscle for 14 offensive boards and scored 13 second-chance points.
SEC speed: Bianca Cuevas-Moore was assigned to shadow All-American Kelsey Mitchell early. She did very well, Mitchell starting slow but scoring 27. Mitchell seemed flustered by Cuevas-Moore matching her moves step for step.
Nice guys finish last: Freshman Mikiah Herbert Harrigan stuck around to help Gray off the floor after a contested shot. Nothing wrong with that except Ohio State was running five on three at the other end for a score.
Who: South Carolina vs. Hampton
When: 3 p.m., Sunday
Where: Colonial Life Arena
TV: SEC Network Plus
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