Tuesday, November 15, 2016
When All-American forward A’Ja Wilson struggled to score and got saddled with fouls early in the third quarter, South Carolina’s newest players came to the rescue.
Transfer guards Kaela Davis and Allisha Gray combined for 61 points in their debuts and the No. 4 Gamecocks opened their season by defeating seventh-ranked Ohio State 92-80 on Monday.
Davis, a two-time All-ACC selection and the conference’s leading scorer in 2014-15 for Georgia Tech before transferring and sitting out last season, had 37 points. She scored seven points to help the Gamecocks go from a two-point lead to a 64-56 advantage in the third quarter.
“Sitting out a year was tough but we were excited to come in and play such a good team as Ohio State” she said. “To be able to get a win is a great start for us and me.”
Gray, a transfer from North Carolina, added 24 points for the Gamecocks, who beat the Buckeyes 88-80 at home to open last season. Alaina Coates had 10 points and 13 rebounds
“The wait was worth it,” Gray said. “It’s a great feeling to be back.”
Kelsey Mitchell led Ohio State (1-1) with 27 points despite picking up two fouls in the first quarter. Sierra Calhoun had 18 points and Shayla Cooper 15.
“Our defense wasn’t up to par,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “When you play a great team like South Carolina, if you’re not going to defend you’re not going to win.”
The Gamecocks did their damage despite Wilson scoring only five points. She picked up her third foul with 5:10 remaining in the third and the Gamecocks up 52-48, but she remained in the game only to exit 40 seconds later on her fourth foul.
Her absence paved the way for Davis and Gray, who had 22 and 14 points in the second half, respectively.
“With Wilson getting in foul trouble early that made it difficult to get the ball inside,” Gray said. “It was one of those games we had to apply ourselves and maybe take certain shots we wouldn’t take in other games.”
Mitchell took no satisfaction in limiting Wilson to 11 points below her season average last season, “I don’t know how much you can talk about that because they still won and we didn’t do good on defense.”
NOT SO FAST
The tempo was slower than what the teams displayed in their last meeting, in part because 51 fouls (29 to Ohio State) ruined the rhythm. “Compared to last year’s game, that was like watching paint dry,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said.