After routing Duke on Sunday in what coach Dawn Staley called the team’s most complete effort of the season, No. 5 South Carolina will try to keep a good thing going Tuesday against College of Charleston.
The Gamecocks (8-1) did not practice on Monday, and Staley said she has yet to work with her team on the lessons she’s taking away from that 72-52 win against the No. 14 Blue Devils.
“I haven’t talked to them,” about Duke yet, Staley said. “I know what it is going to look like. I know when they see the edit, they’re going to see some things that we did extremely well. And when players see those things, they feed into that. They feed into positive reinforcement. Just as we were learning lessons from our Notre Dame loss, there are lessons in this one — good lessons, and hopefully this will be our identity.”
Part of that identity Staley wants is consistency, and Tuesday offers an easy chance to build off the Duke game — College of Charleston hasn’t beaten South Carolina in Columbia since 1977, and earlier this season, unranked Michigan State pummeled the Cougars, 107-43.
But the Gamecocks’ own schedule introduces at least a little uncertainty into the mix, as Tuesday will mark USC’s sixth game in 12 days. And while Staley has said she wants her team to respect every opponent, the need for rest was more important Monday, she said.
“We’ve never done (this schedule) before. Just the schedule has been hectic for us to play three in a row (over Thanksgiving weekend), and then to come back. And we practiced after the Notre Dame loss, so they’ve been going for a very long time without a break, so I just used an opportunity to take the day off and hopefully give them the rest they need to perform as they did on Sunday,” Staley said.
Adding to that fatigue is the fact that South Carolina has just nine healthy available players on its roster — senior guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore and redshirt senior guard Lindsey Spann remain sidelined with sprained knees and will not return Tuesday, Staley said. She did not offer a definitive timeline for either player’s return, but did say Cuevas-Moore is progressing well.
All the same, Staley said she hopes Sunday’s result will help feed into Tuesday’s play.
“Since our players did play so well, hopefully they want to continue to play that caliber of play each and every time they step on the floor,” Staley said. “We’re just going to go and play the game tomorrow, continue to work on things that we need to work on to keep this identity going.”
Gamecock Fan Essentials
Who: College of Charleston, 2-5, lost 107-43 against Michigan State, one of three Power 5 conference teams on the Cougars’ schedule
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Colonial Life Arena
Watch: Streaming on SEC Network Plus via the WatchESPN app
History: South Carolina is 15-9 all time against College of Charleston, including eight consecutive wins. The Cougars have won just once in Columbia. The last time the two teams met was in November 2013, when the Gamecocks won 81-54.
Key storyline: There’s virtually no chance College of Charleston will pull off this upset, but the Cougars have to be hoping that South Carolina is tired from only playing nine players and a quick turnaround from Sunday’s Duke matchup. If that’s the case, Charleston may stick around for a quarter or two.