After a lackluster performance at home against Georgia, Dawn Staley made it clear she needed better production from her players, particularly her starters, on the road against Florida.
The Gamecocks got that after a sluggish first quarter, cruising to a 96-77 win over the Gators in Gainesville with four players scoring in double figures.
Staley started the game with two new starters in her lineup — the team’s leading scorer, Te’a Cooper, did not travel due to illness and was replaced by senior Donyiah Cliney, and junior guard Tyasha Harris began the game on the bench, ceding her spot to freshman Destanni Henderson, who has been playing well as of late.
The new look worked early for Carolina (19-6, 11-1 SEC), as they seized the lead and doubled up the Gators, 14-7, on a 3-pointer from Cliney. From there, however, Florida scored 13 unanswered points as USC went more than four minutes without scoring. UF ended the first quarter on a 18-4 run, as Carolina was whistled for seven fouls and turned the ball over four times.
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South Carolina came roaring back in the second quarter, however, with seven consecutive made field goals, including back-to-back-to-back 3s, and an 9-0 run.
Florida, meanwhile, was 1-for-10 from 3-point range in the quarter and shot just 36.8 percent from the field in the period, getting doubled up by USC, 30-15. At halftime, Carolina led 48-40.
After the break , the Gators mounted a brief rally and ripped off a 7-0 run to get within two points, but shortly after that, the Gamecocks put on a 13-2 burst, making six of seven shots to push the lead into double digits and move comfortably ahead for good.
Redshirt senior Aleixs Jennings finished the third quarter with 17 points, the most in a quarter by any Gamecock this season. Henderson and senior guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore had tied the previous high in the second quarter with 12.
Cuevas-Moore finished the game with 19 points, and Henderson came one away from her career high with 18. Harris, who still played 32 minutes despite coming off the bench, had her first double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 assists.
Star of the game: Alexis Jennings was held scoreless and without a rebound in the first quarter. She dominated the rest of the way, posting a game-high 22 points and tied for the USC lead with five rebounds.
Stat of the game: The Gamecocks’ 59 percent mark from the field was easily their best of the season and full nine points better than their previous SEC best.
Play of the game: Jennings’ 3-pointer with 7:27 left in the third quarter was her first of the season and second of her Gamecock career. It also came at a crucial point with Florida only trailing by two points,
South Carolina returns home for another SEC rematch, this time with Kentucky, on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks and Wildcats will be televised on the SEC Network.
|SOUTH CAROLINA (19-6)|
Herbert Harrigan 4-8 1-3 9, Jennings 8-11 5-6 22, Cliney 1-1 0-0 3, Cuevas-Moore 8-14 0-2 19, Henderson 6-8 3-4 18, Grissett 0-0 0-0 0, Jackson 0-0 0-0 0, Saxton 2-3 2-4 6, Wesolek 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 0-0 1-4 1, Harris 4-7 2-2 11, Perry 3-9 1-3 7, Totals 36-61 15-28 96.
Williams 7-10 0-1 14, de Oliveira 1-3 0-0 2, Nakkasoglu 6-14 6-7 19, Smith 4-14 1-2 10, Washington 4-10 2-2 12, Robinson 1-1 0-0 2, Johnson 1-2 1-2 3, Rainey 6-16 2-2 15, Staples 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 30-70 12-16 77.
|South Carolina||18||30||25||23||— 96|
3-Point Goals: South Carolina 9-19 (Jennings 1-1, Cliney 1-1, Cuevas-Moore 3-6, Henderson 3-5, Harris 1-4, Perry 0-2), Florida 5-31 (Williams 0-1, de Oliveira 0-2, Nakkasoglu 1-7, Smith 1-6, Washington 2-5, Johnson 0-1, Rainey 1-9). Assists: South Carolina 17 (Harris 10), Florida 10 (Smith 5). Fouled Out: Florida, Rainey. Rebounds: South Carolina 36 (Jennings 5), Florida 39 (Washington 10). Total Fouls: South Carolina 16, Florida 19. Technical Fouls: None. Attendance: 3,213.