COLUMBIA, S.C. — PJ Dozier scored the game-winning jumper on a lob from Duane Notice as time expired in overtime Tuesday night at Colonial Life Arena to power South Carolina (3-0) to a 70-69 non-conference win over Monmouth (1-1). Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell led all scorers for the third-straight game with 23 points. He also had nine rebounds and six assists.
Tonight’s game marks Carolina’s third game in five days to open the 2016-17 season.
Carolina got off to a fast start, opening the game on a 13-0 run. Thornwell and Notice each hit 3s as the Gamecocks opened the game 4-of-7 from the field. Monmouth started the game 0-for-9 and didn’t get its first bucket until 13:12 left in the first half.
South Carolina pushed its run to 17-2 just before the second media timeout on a Chris Silvia made free throw. The Gamecocks went 9-for-13 from the charity stripe in the first 10 minutes, after a pair of Notice free throws made the score 19-2.
The Hawks would battle back into the game, cutting the lead to 19-7 with 7:35 left in the opening period, after taking advantage of an 0-for-11 field-goal drought for Carolina that lasted over 10 minutes. Redshirt-sophomore guard TeMarcus Blanton ended the drought after knocking down a 3 to push the Carolina lead to 22-7 with 6:59 left in the half.
Monmouth went on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to nine at 22-13, but the Gamecocks remained ahead 26-13 after back-to-back buckets by senior guard Justin McKie. The Hawks scored the final two baskets of the half to make it 29-22 as the teams headed to the locker room.
Both teams struggled shooting the ball for long stretches in the first half. Monmouth finished the first half 7-for-30 (23.3 percent), while South Carolina shot 8-of-30, good for 26.7 percent.
The Gamecocks started the second half much like half one, going on an 11-0 run after knocking down 4-of-7 shots from the field (57.1 percent). They led 38-22 at the first media timeout. Thornwell (4) and Notice (5) tallied nine of the 11 points on the run.
The Hawks started half two 2-of-9 (22.2 percent) from the field, but then went on a 16-2 run, holding Carolina scoreless for nearly five minutes before a Silva reverse lay-in. McKie and Notice each hit 3s in the stretch to make it 50-46, but the Hawks got back within two at the under-eight media timeout. Monmouth took its first lead at 52-50 with 6:52 left after a put-back lay-in by big man Diago Quinn.
Thornwell scored five-straight points to put the Gamecocks back ahead, 55-52, forcing a timeout by head coach King Rice with 5:45 remaining in the second half. Monmouth then had a four-minute field goal draught before scoring four-straight to tie it up at 58-58 with 1:23 remaining. A pair of Thornwell free throws put Carolina ahead by two with 31.7 seconds left, but Micah Seaborn answered for the Hawks with two free throws of his own to tie the score again.
The Gamecocks turned it over off an inbounds play with eight seconds left. Monmouth got a shot off from the right wing, but Thornwell skied high to block it. Carolina got the ball back with .07 seconds left. Dozier launched a half-court heave from the left side that rimmed in-and-out and the game headed to overtime tied at 60.
Dozier, who did not score in regulation, scored six of the team’s 10 points in overtime, to propel Carolina to victory. Thornwell scored the other four points from the free throw line. Nine of his 23 points came from the charity stripe Tuesday night. Notice (15) and Silva (10) joined Thornwell in double-figures. Silva tallied his first career double-double after leading the team with 10 rebounds.
The Hawks finished the game with four players in double-figures. Chris Brady led the way with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Je’Lon Hornbeak (14), Micah Seaborn (11) and Justin Robinson (11) were also in double-figures for Monmouth. The Gamecocks held Robinson, who was the unanimous selection for MAAC Preseason Player of the Year, to just 2-of-13 shooting.