As the South Carolina starting lineup was being introduced Sunday afternoon, the emotion among each player was evident as they had to pass senior Demetress Adams standing on the side in street clothes.
Brionna Dickerson stopped and hugged Adams on her way to midcourt. Jewel May was the final player announced and in a show of respect to Adams has decided to wear her No. 24 for the remainder of the season.
Adams was lost to for the season with a knee injury during Thursday’s game at Mississippi. In the huddle before the opening tip, several players had to wipe away the tears, including Adams.
Then about ten minutes in of a 66-56 loss to Vanderbilt, Dickerson lay on the Colonial Life Arena court clutching her right knee and would be out for the remainder of the game.
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It’s been a tough two games for the South Carolina program that has its top two leading scorers out and is playing without a player taller than 6-foot-1.
The official word from USC media relations person Diana Koval is that Dickerson has an injured right knee and was scheduled to have an MRI later Sunday night.
“Losing Dee and Bri ten minutes into the last two games affects you but at the same time we have to move on,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “I told our players that if I get sick and can’t coach we still going to play LSU on Thursday and we’ve got to get ready to play.”
C.J. Pace, the only other senior on the roster, did all she could to keep the Gamecocks close. She set a new career-high with 19 points, but it was not enough to keep track with the 17th ranked Commodores.
“C.J. has been struggling a little bit with confidence and just shooting the basketball and putting points on the scoreboard but I think she played inspired,” Staley said. “She sees her fellow seniors go down, and she wanted to fight for them.”
Dickerson has carried the South Carolina (9-10, 1-5) offense since the start of SEC play. The former Heathwood Hall standout was averaging 21.2 points a game in the first five league games and has been impressive from beyond the 3-point arc by making a SEC best 42.9 percent (18-of-42).
Depending on how long she may be out, Staley will have to find a way for her undersized, outmanned squad to stay competitive in the rugged SEC. That leaves the Gamecocks with nine healthy bodies to put on the floor.
“When we break the huddle at timeouts it was 1-2-3, together, but now it’s going to be 1-2-3, all we got,” USC freshman Lakeisha Sutton said.
Jennifer Risper turned the momentum in Vanderbilt’s favor when she scored nine consecutive points during a four-minute stretch in the first half to give Vanderbilt (15-5, 4-1) a comfortable working margin. The Gamecocks had closed out a 12-2 run after the exit of Dickerson to pull within 22-18, but Risper took control while USC turned it over on five consecutive possessions.
Having to play with players in roles they have not grown accustomed to, the Gamecocks could not find a groove offensively. They shot 37.9 percent would only get as close as six the rest of the way.