COLUMBIA — All is not lost. South Carolina is still a good team and could be a great team before the season ends.
It’s just in the season between having the greatest player in program history, and welcoming the country’s No. 1 recruiting class, there are going to be some rough spots. Fourth-ranked Baylor gave the No. 18 Gamecocks their roughest yet Sunday 94-69.
“That first quarter really rocked us a little bit to the point of they stretched it out so much we couldn’t get into the flow of the game,” USC coach Dawn Staley said. “The last three quarters were encouraging. We just have to find a way to get that ball in the hole.”
USC (4-4) finished a stretch of three top-10 opponents among six games against the Lady Bears (7-0) as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Gamecocks lost all three.
Baylor barely missed a shot against USC’s smaller, overwhelmed defense, and while the Gamecocks’ game plan was solid – play for transition, get inside, stay away from the 3-pointer – they couldn’t hit enough shots to capitalize. USC began the game 4 for 20 from the floor as Baylor went ahead 40-15.
“It was the game plan, just spread them out and not let them get to comfortable spots,” said USC guard Ty Harris, who scored 10 points.
Te’a Cooper led USC with 16 points, while three others were in double figures.
* The Gamecocks, specifically Cooper, were trying to get their teammates more involved in the offense. A game after recording a mere three assists against Dayton, USC had 11.
* The result was discouraging, but USC won’t play a team as talented as Baylor outside of Connecticut the rest of the season. Even Mississippi State doesn’t have lights-out scoring from its guards, and center Tearia McCowan, while immensely gifted, has always had a hard time against USC.
* Lele Grissett started and had a double-double, just the second by a Gamecock this season.
* Most figured the result would be what it was, and no game plan was going to overcome that Baylor is miles better than the Gamecocks. USC had a good idea, to not depend on the 3-pointer, to take it inside, to run transition … but none of the shots went in. Hard to win any basketball game when only four balls fall in the first 15 minutes of the game.
* The Gamecocks gave up the most points they ever have in a first half (57). They also tied the most overall points allowed in Staley’s 11 years.
* A lot of it was Baylor’s height. The Bears start women that stand 6-7 and 6-4.
A lot of it wasn’t. USC has a bad problem at finishing at the rim, again missing several layups. They’ve done the same against teams with much less height.
Trailing 28-13 near the end of the first, USC had a lot of time to crawl back in the game. It was nothing hitting a few shots couldn’t fix.
The defense switched off Chloe Jackson, expecting someone to pick her up. Nobody did and Jackson swooped right to the hoop.
Mikiah Herbert Harrigan inbounded the ball and tossed it right to DiDi Richards, who scored another easy layup at the buzzer. Staley threw up her hands.
The Gamecocks host Appalachian State Wednesday before taking off on a two-game road trip.