COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) — South Carolina (2-0) picked up its second win of the season Sunday night at Colonial Life Arena after an 81-49 victory versus Holy Cross (0-1). The Gamecock defense limited the Crusaders to just 17 second half points and 30 percent shooting (6-20) from the field in the half. Carolina senior guard Sindarius Thornwell had 20 points to lead all scorers.
After trailing 4-3 early in the game, Carolina went on a 9-0 run after a put-back dunk by sophomore Chris Silva that put the Gamecocks up 12-4. Senior guard Justin McKie extended the early lead to 10 after a transition layup put Carolina ahead 18-8 with 11:56 to go in the first half. McKie’s layup forced Crusader Head Coach Bill Carmody to take a timeout after his team started the game 2-for-11 from the field (18.1 percent).
After the timeout, freshman guard Rakym Felder hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put the Gamecocks up 24-13. Carolina started the game on fire from the field, hitting 10-of-14 shots, good for 71.4 percent.
Holy Cross cut the lead to five at the 7:08 mark, but Thornwell answered with a post up bucket from the left block to put the Gamecocks up 33-26. Senior guard Duane Notice then hit a 3 on the team’s next possession, putting Carolina up 10, 36-26, with 3:03 left in the opening half.
Senior guard PJ Dozier hit his third 3 of the first half from the left wing with 1:29 left to put the Gamecocks up 15. Holy Cross answered with a 3-point bucket of its own. The teams exchanged 3s again on their next possessions, as Thornwell hit from deep for Carolina and Robert Champion, the Crusaders’ leading scorer from a year ago, hit one for Holy Cross. Champion’s 3 cut the deficit to 12 just before the half with Carolina leading 44-32.
Thornwell led all scorers at the break with 14. Dozier was the second-leading scorer on the stat sheet with 13 first-half points for the Gamecocks. Notice had four assists to lead all players. Carolina shot 58.3 percent in the opening period, including going 8-of-13 from deep. Champion, and forward Malachi Alexander, each scored 12 points for the Crusaders to account for 24 of the team’s 32 first-half points.
Carolina picked up right where it left off in the second half as Thornwell hit a 3 at the 15:03 mark to give the Gamecocks a 16-point lead, 53-37. McKie tallied his eighth point with just under 12 minutes to play with a high floater in the lane, which put Carolina up by 20, 59-39.
The Gamecocks defense remained locked in during half two. Holy Cross started the second half 4-for-13, just 30.8 percent from the field. Carolina’s hot shooting continued on the offensive end, as it started the second half 8-of-16 (50 percent).
Thornwell hit his fourth 3 of the game with 8:34 left to put the Gamecocks up 66-42. He finshed the night 4-for-6 from behind the arc. McKie joined Thornwell in double figures, scoring his 10th point of the night with 3:08 left after stealing the ball and taking it coast-to-coast for the lay in to give Carolina a 74-47 lead late in the game.