South Carolina roared out of the locker room, pasting Saint Peter’s from the tip and playing its most complete game of the season. The No. 3 Gamecocks expected it and it was expected by the rest of the country – the Peacocks had lost 18 in a row before that game.
Yet, USC coach Dawn Staley was pleased. That kind of start let her know her team won’t take any team lightly.
That comes in handy with the next game. Fourth-ranked Louisville waits on Sunday to start a stretch of three games away from home, the first two against top-25 teams.
“It feels like a game,” Staley said. “If we can get off to great starts, I think it can put people back on their heels.”
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Perhaps the quick start will carry over, although the Cardinals (6-0) are one of the country’s best teams. They feature the kind of height that can match up with USC’s Alaina Coates and A’ja Wilson.
Louisville’s also dangerous from the outside. Guard Asia Durr’s capable of taking a game over, much like USC’s Kaela Davis did in the season opener at Ohio State. Sunday’s game might wind up going to the team with the most weapons.
Through four games, the Gamecocks have proven to be that. Their preferred offense comes from the “big girls,” but Davis and Allisha Gray have shown they can light it up inside and out. With point guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore coming off her best game of the season and freshman Mikiah Herbert Harrigan jumping into the fray, USC looks to end the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge on a great note.
“It’s a challenge against a top-5 team in the country. We’ve been there,” Staley said. “It’s a great way to test where we are. It’s a good way to see where we match up with other great teams across the country.”
And a good way for Louisville to do the same.
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No. 4 Louisville (6-0)
vs. No. 3 South Carolina (4-0)
When: 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: MassMutual Center; Springfield, Mass.
TV: ESPN2 Radio: 107.5 FM
Louisville’s probable starters: G Taylor Johnson 5-7 Sr. (3.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg); G Asia Durr 5-10 So. (19.7 ppg, 1.0 rpg); F Mariya Moore 6-0 Jr. (12.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg); F Myisha Hines-Allen 6-2 Jr. (10.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg); C Ciera Johnson 6-4 Fr. (8.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
USC’s probable starters: G Bianca Cuevas-Moore 5-6 Jr. (7.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg); G Allisha Gray 6-0 Jr. (15.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg); G Kaela Davis 6-2 Jr. (16.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg); F A’ja Wilson 6-5 Jr. (13.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg); C Alaina Coates 6-4 Sr. (16.5 ppg, 12.5 rpg)
Next game: USC plays at No. 14 Texas at 7 p.m. on Thursday