COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) — No. 4/3 South Carolina was explosive in the first half of its 120-49 exhibition victory over Benedict Sunday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena. Three Gamecocks were in double figures by halftime to generate a 72-23 lead at the break as head coach Dawn Staley had her team primed for an up-tempo offense. South Carolina’s All-America frontcourt of Alaina Coates and A’ja Wilson netted 38 points on 15-of-16 field goal shooting, while freshman forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan led the offense with 23 points on 7-of-8 accuracy from the field.
South Carolina opened the game quickly and had a 16-5 lead midway through the first quarter. A pair of 11-0 runs in the period yielded a 35-13 advantage by the end of the quarter as Herbert Harrigan made the most of her first effort in the Garnet and Black. The freshman needed just four minutes in the period to pile up nine points and four blocked shots.
The second quarter brought more of the same with Wilson pouring in 12 of her 22 points during the 10-minute stretch, hitting all five of her field goal attempts. The Gamecock guards were piling up assists throughout the first half, handing out assist on 16 of the team’s 27 field goals before halftime.
South Carolina’s aggressive play in transition cost the Gamecocks in the turnover column, but the pace was what Staley wanted with her squad scoring 37 fast break points and 36 points off turnovers.
Senior Bianca Cuevas-Moore drew the start at the point guard position and finished the game with five assists and three steals in just 15 minutes of action. Freshman Tyasha Harris showed Gamecock fans a glimpse at the future of the position, though, posting seven assists to go with her five points and three steals in just 16 minute on the court.
South Carolina’s junior transfer Kaela Davis and Allisha Gray made an immediate impact, with Davis doing it from a variety of positions. The Georgia Tech transfer lived up to her high scoring reputation with 20 points, adding eight rebounds, three assists and two steals to the box score. Gray struggled from long range, but had a solid day inside it, hitting 5-of-5 from inside the arc en route to 15 points.
- All 11 Gamecocks on the active roster played at least 10 minutes in the game.
- South Carolina’s starting frontcourt of Alaina Coates and A’ja Wilson combined for 38 points and 12 rebounds.
- Senior center Alaina Coates continues to be a great passer, handing out four assists.
- Five Gamecocks scored in double figures – Mikiah Herbert Harrigan 23, A’ja Wilson 22, Kaela Davis 20, Alaina Coates 16, Allisha Gray 15.
- A newcomer led or tied for the team lead in points, rebounds, assists and steals.
South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley
On what she saw from her team…
“I liked the fact that we have an opportunity to play a little bit quicker. Obviously, we had some miscues in playing fast, but when you’re going to pick up the pace of how you want to play, you have to be patient with the players and get them to execute at that pace. I think it was a good start. What I didn’t like about today was, defensively we look a little bit different than we have in the past. We just have to compete a little better on that side of the ball.”
The Gamecocks officially open the 2016-17 season on the road, traveling to No. 7/6 Ohio State for a 6 p.m. (ET) tilt on Mon., Nov. 14.