Thornwell’s 25 Points Not Enough as USC Falls at Ole Miss, 75-70

OXFORD, Miss. (USC SID) — A ferocious second half rally fell just short Saturday night, as South Carolina (22-9, 12-6 SEC) was defeated 75-70 by Ole Miss (19-12, 10-8 SEC) in the team’s regular season finale. Senior Sindarius Thornwell led all scorers with 25 points as he filled up the stat sheet for the Gamecocks with seven rebounds and six assists.

The Rebels led 9-5 early, but Carolina went on a 5-0 run to take a 10-9 lead at the first media timeout with 13:59 to go. Ole Miss regained the lead, 13-12, at the next media timeout with 11:56 on the clock. The Gamecocks were sharing the basketball early, as five different players scored and the team logged four assists.

A quick 7-0 run by Ole Miss forced head coach Frank Martin to take a timeout with 10:02 remaining, his team trailing 20-13. Carolina responded forcing three turnovers on a 6-0 run to pull within one, 20-19, at the under eight media timeout with 7:59 to go in the opening half.

The Rebels lead grew back to seven, but a four-point swing on a technical foul pulled the Gamecocks back within three, 31-28, with just under four minutes to play. Back-to-back 3s by Cullen Neal put Ole Miss back in control, 37-28 with 3:13 to go.

Carolina was unable to close the gap before the horn and trailed 42-31 at the break, just its second double-digit halftime deficit of the season. Thornwell had 11 points to lead the team. Freshman Maik Kotsar and sophomore Hassani Gravett each had five. Thornwell and Gravett combined for eight of the team’s nine first half assists. The Rebels shot the ball efficiently in the first 20 minutes, going 16-for-28 (57 percent) from the floor and 6-for-10 (60 percent) from behind the arc. Breein Tyree led all scorers with 13 (6-for-9). Sebastian Saiz was also in double figures for Ole Miss with 11 points.

The Rebels hot shooting continued to start the second half, as they opened the game’s final 20 minutes on a 9-0 run. Tyree hit a 3 to put Ole Miss ahead 20, 51-31, forcing Martin to take a timeout with 16:38 to go.

Maik Kotsar made it 54-43 at the under-12 media timeout with 11:58 to go.

Senior Duane Notice got to the rim and scored, then Gravett knocked down a 3-pointer to pull the Gamecocks within six, 54-48, with 10:26 left. Ole Miss led 60-52 at the under eight media timeout. Carolina came within four, but the Rebels took advantage of a three minute scoring draught for the Gamecocks to go ahead 65-56 at the final media timeout with 3:56 remaining.

Notice knocked down a huge 3-pointer to cap a 7-0 run for Carolina, pulling the team within four, 71-67, with 1:07 left in the game. The deficit went back to seven, but the Toronto, Ontario, native, pulled Carolina within four again, 74-70, after another big 3 with 25 seconds to go. The Gamecocks were unable to find the bottom of the net the rest of the game, as Ole Miss held on for the hard-fought 75-70 victory.

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