South Carolina women’s basketball is coming off a 30-point road win against one of its biggest rivals – so, naturally, coach Dawn Staley wants more from her team.
Three days after cruising by Clemson 66-36, the Gamecocks (3-0) return to the floor Sunday to face Wofford (1-1) at Colonial Life Arena in a matchup they are heavily favored to win.
But the same was true when USC faced Clemson on Thursday, and while Staley’s squad took the lead halfway through the first quarter and never looked back, she said she was disappointed with her players’ performance.
“I didn’t think we played as disciplined as we needed to play and approach it the way we need to approach it,” Staley said Thursday night. “But we’ll continue to work on that.”
Or, as star senior A’ja Wilson put it, “we won’t see that anymore, because I think Coach is about to take care of that.”
After practice Friday, Staley pronounced herself mostly satisfied with her team’s focus.
“It was much better. This team responds well anytime you bring something to their attention, they usually do a really good job of responding,” Staley said. “They don’t have any idea of the big picture, because they’re just day to day. From a coaching standpoint, we think big picture of what it looks like against better competition, and we want to create better habits for us.”
Against Wofford, South Carolina will face another in-state opponent that it will be expected to dominate – the Terriers played Georgia in their season-opener and lost 95-56. Games like Clemson and Wofford, however, help test the Gamecocks mentally, Staley said.
“If you look at it, we’re probably the more talented team,” compared with Wofford, Staley said. “And I’m always on guard for the more talented team not showing up and disrespecting our opponents in that way. And I don’t think they mean it. It’s just, they’re young. They’re habit-forming young people at this time. Sometimes when you’re forming good habits, you take a step back. And we’re here to make sure they stay in line with winning the national championship, because that’s what we want to do.”
The Terriers will enter the matchup with plenty of motivation – not only is South Carolina the defending national champs, it is also the last Power 5 conference team Wofford will play. Leading Wofford will be junior guard Chloe Wanink, who put up a game-high 24 points against Georgia and was selected as a preseason all-conference player in the Southern Conference.
For the Gamecocks, redshirt senior Lindsey Spann will look to continue her hot shooting from 3-point territory – she was 6-for-7 against Clemson – and Wilson will go for her fourth double-double in four games.
Gamecock Fan Essentials
Who: Wofford, 1-1 this season, 13-17 last year, picked to finish seventh in preseason Southern Conference poll
When: Sunday, 3 p.m.
Where: Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, South Carolina
Watch: No TV broadcast, but streaming online on SEC Network Plus via the WatchESPN app
Their best player: Junior guard Chloe Wanink was the only player to rank in the top 10 of the Southern Conference in points, rebounds and assists last season, and she’s picked up right where she left off, with 25.5 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists per game through two contests.
History: The Terriers and the Gamecocks have played six times, most recently in 2002. South Carolina has won every game by at least 24 points.