Dawn Staley said last week if South Carolina women’s basketball couldn’t figure out its rebounding issues, it would have a long Thanksgiving at the Vancouver Showcase.
As it turns out, the rebounding wasn’t that bad, but the holiday weekend was still rough for the Gamecocks, as they dropped a 90-85 overtime contest to Drake on Saturday for its second consecutive loss, dropping to 3-3 on the season.
The unranked Bulldogs stymied Staley’s squad with strong 3-point shooting and tough defense, refusing to let the Gamecocks pull away when they had the chance. In a game with seven ties and three lead changes, Drake was led by
No. 13 USC, meanwhile, wasted a career-high 31-point performance from redshirt junior guard Te’a Cooper and has now lost cconsecutive games to nonconference opponents for the first time since 2010. The 2010-2011 season was also the last time the Gamecocks were at .500 or worse this late in a season.
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Cooper paced Carolina early, starting 6-for-6 from the field and accounting for nearly 50 percent of the team’s 36 points at halftime. But just before the break, Drake reeled off a 13-2 run powered by Becca Hittner and Brenni Rose to take a six-point lead. In that time, South Carolina went nearly five minutes without a field goal, going 0-for-6 from the floor in that span.
Throughout the second half, USC steadily pulled itself back into the contest, as junior guard Tyasha Harris scored 11 of her 18 point and redshirt senior forward Jennings scored all 10 of her points in the third and fourth quarter.
With 3:45 left to play, a layup from sophomore forward Lele Grissett finally tied the game at 69. From there, there would be two lead changes and three ties as South Carolina failed to connect on a field goal in the final two minutes but shot 4-for-4 on free throws, while Drake got several timely buckets from redshirt sophomore forward Sara Rhine, the last with 20 seconds left to tie things up. A last-second South Carolina shot by Donyiah Cliney was short, forcing overtime.
In the extra period, Carolina took a quick four-point lead with layups from Cooper and Harris, but Drake’s defense once again clamped down, Rhine contributed four of her team-high 25 points and the Gamecocks missed their final five field goal attempts, including three 3-point attempts in the final minute.
All told, USC shot just 26.7 percent from 3 on 8 of 30 attempts. On the season, Staley’s squad is 2-0 when making 10 or more 3-pointers and 1-3 when it does not. Sophomore guard Bianca Jackson, normally one of the team’s best long range shooters, was 0-for-6 from beyond the arc Saturday.
South Carolina will now return home to host Dayton on Wednesday at Colonial Life Arena. The game will be streamed online on SEC Network Plus and is scheduled to tip at 7 p.m.