COLUMBUS, Ohio (USC SID) – Led by 37 points and 10 rebounds from junior guard Kaela Davis in her Gamecock debut, No. 4/3 South Carolina earned a 92-80 win over No. 7/6 Ohio State in Monday’s season opener at Schottenstein Center. Davis and fellow junior transfer Allisha Gray were the difference down the stretch for the Gamecocks, who used a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to pull away and open the season with a win over the Buckeyes for the second-straight year.
Gray, who also made her debut for the Gamecocks on Monday, finished the contest with 24 points to go along with seven rebounds and three assists. Senior center Alaina Coates added 10 points and 13 rebounds to become the third player to finish in double-figures for Carolina, which boasted a 48-36 rebound advantage and finished the night with 44 points in the paint. The Gamecocks shot 48.4 percent from the floor and scored 16 points off of 17 Buckeye turnovers.
A series of runs defined the first half as both teams were sizing each other up. The first quarter saw jitters from both as the Gamecocks opened strong and the Buckeyes rallied when South Carolina went to its youthful bench. With Wilson going out with her second foul with 3:14 left in the first quarter, the Gamecocks pushed ahead for the remainder of the half without her.
After a 6-2 run by the Buckeyes ended the first quarter with the home team in front 18-17, South Carolina turned up the offensive pressure in the second. Davis and Gray handled the bulk of the work while the Gamecocks mixed their transition play with solid interior work by Coates and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan.
Junior Bianca Cuevas-Moore turned an early steal into a layup, and Davis and Gray answered the Buckeyes early. Solid defense set up three straight transition buckets – a great sprint up the floor to finish by Coates, a Gray layup off a steal and a great look up the floor found Herbert Harrigan for a 33-25 Gamecock lead with 4:03 left in the half. Coates hit from the left block moments later, and a pair of scores from Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell made it a two-point game with 3:06 to go before the break. Davis and Gray handled the offense down the stretch and carried the Gamecocks into the locker room with a 44-39 advantage.
Ohio State kept it tight in the third quarter, drawing within a basket with under 3:00 left in the period. Gray drove the baseline to push it out again, and after a free throw on the other end, Davis went on a personal 7-2 surge, hitting a 3-pointer from the right wing, a pull-up jumper and a pair of free throws to give South Carolina a 64-56 lead with 1:35 left in the quarter.
Trailing by eight heading into the final period, the Buckeyes opened with a flurry, crashing the boards and scoring the first four points of the period to draw within 63-67 with 8:25 to play. The Gamecocks responded with a defensive flurry that held Ohio State scoreless for the next 3:29. Meanwhile, Gray and Davis continued to find ways to score.
Gray opened the 10-0 run with a jumper from the right elbow and a free throw. Davis added a pair of free throws and then drained a deep 3-pointer from the top of the arc as the shot clock wound down to make it a 75-63 lead with six minutes to play. Another steal from Gray led to an easy layup. The Buckeyes finally got back on the board by converting a steal into an easy layup.
But the lead was enough for the Gamecocks, who knocked down 8-of-12 field goals in the fourth quarter and converted eight of their 11 free throw attempts in the final 10 minutes. Nine of Gray’s 14 second-half points came in the final period, and her last field goal of the night pushed the advantage to 92-76 with just under a minute to play.
Junior Kaela Davis’s 3-pointer with six minutes left in the game pushed the Carolina advantage to double-digits at 75-63. The guard led the Gamecocks with four baskets from beyond the arc on Monday.
Carolina limited the Buckeyes to just 25.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc, as Ohio State finished the contest 7-of-27 on 3-point attempts.
- With Monday’s victory, the Gamecocks improved to 7-2 in season openers under head coach Dawn Staley. South Carolina is 2-1 when opening the season against a nationally ranked opponent under Staley, with both wins coming over the Buckeyes.
- Junior guard Kaela Davis is the first Gamecock to reach 30 or more points since Ieasia Walker tallied 30 against Clemson on Nov. 18, 2010.
- Center Alaina Coates’ performance against Ohio State marked the senior’s 42nd career double-double.
- South Carolina boasts 10 wins over top-10 opponents since the start of the 2014-15 season.
The Gamecocks are set for their home opener at Colonial Life Arena on Sun., Nov. 20, at 3 p.m. The first game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge, South Carolina will play Hampton at 3 p.m. followed by a 5 p.m. tipoff between Saint Peter’s and Maine. The doubleheaders continue on Monday and Tuesday. The Gamecocks play the second games of those sessions, tipping off at 7 p.m. against Maine on Monday and Saint Peter’s on Tuesday. Neutral site games on Monday and Tuesday are set for 5 p.m. One ticket admits fans to both games each day.