David Cloninger

‘The kid with two last names’ helps push USC to tourney final

South Carolina’s Mikiah Herbert Harrigan shoots as Kentucky's Makayla Epps defends during the SEC Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville.
South Carolina’s Mikiah Herbert Harrigan shoots as Kentucky's Makayla Epps defends during the SEC Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville. tglantz@thestate.com

They’re down to 10, and still looking really, really good.

Depth was always going to be a concern with this year’s South Carolina team. The Gamecocks weren’t expecting to lose Jatarie White last year but did, and although Alexis Jennings could practice, she couldn’t play this year. USC was down to 11 players for the season, and one of those was Tiffany Davis, whose knees weren’t going to allow her many minutes.

The Gamecocks played Alaina Coates on a bad ankle Saturday for scant minutes, and had to take her out when she re-aggravated it. She’s out for Sunday’s SEC Tournament championship game – and yet USC feels very good.

Freshman Mikiah Herbert Harrigan – “the kid with two last names,” as Kentucky guard Makayla Epps coined her on Friday – scored a career-high 17 points as USC beat the Wildcats for the sixth consecutive time and advanced to the tournament final. A strong player early in the season who hit the freshman wall in the middle, Herbert Harrigan has been playing very well lately.

“When you give to this game, it becomes a gift that keeps on giving,” USC coach Dawn Staley said. “She’s got to continue to play at that level in order for us to continue to have the success that we’re having.”

Herbert Harrigan looked polished and mature as she fought for putbacks and drained long jumpers, also swatting Epps as she drove the lane for a layup. Her contributions helped out a Gamecocks team that had a comfortable lead only to lose it.

USC would like to have more healthy players, but it doesn’t. It’s heading into the SEC final and the NCAAs, though, with players it can throw into any situation.

“We don’t fret who we don’t have,” Staley said. “Everybody thinks they’re going to play. It’s added focus on their part.”

Follow on Twitter at @DCTheState

  Comments