COLUMBIA, SC — Rivalry Week began with a Gamecocks rout.
The USC women’s basketball team dominated early, late and for most of everything in between on Sunday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena. The result was a 64-43 victory against a Clemson team so inexperienced that USC looked like a WNBA squad in comparison.
With the win, USC improved to 4-0, the program’s best start since the Jocelyn Penn-led Gamecocks squad from 2002-2003 won its first eight games.
An early theme with the Gamecocks this season has been fast starts. Sunday provided another example as USC raced out to a 17-5 lead and didn’t allow a Clemson field goal until Chelsea Lindsay’s jumper with 8:48 to go in the first half.
“At the beginning of the game, we were pretty ready to rock and roll,” USC coach Dawn Staley said. “I think our players knew the magnitude of the game. Certainly holding them without a field goal for a few minutes plays a part.”
If there was a hiccup, it came on the glass. For all the winless Tigers’ failings during their winless start, rebounding had not been one of them.
The Gamecocks struggled to separate themselves from the Tigers (0-3) on the glass until the second half. Then, a slim 19-18 advantage became a 46-28 domination. In outrebounding Clemson 27-10 in the second half, USC grabbed 14 offensive boards to the Tigers’ 4.
“A marathon is not won in the first mile,” Staley said. “I think we knew we were going to be challenged a lot different than we were in the first three games of the season, and it’s a rivalry game for us, so they came in ready to play and ready to challenge us.”
The Tigers entered the game as the nation’s fourth-youngest team. That inexperience showed in many ways, including the rebound disparity. The most eye-opening statistic might have been the Tigers’ 23.9 percent shooting from the field. Clemson also committed 30 fouls to USC’s 19 and had three players foul out, including Natiece Ford, who collected her five fouls in 10 minutes.
Senior Ashley Bruner and freshman Tiffany Mitchell each had 16 points to lead USC. Bruner also grabbed eight rebounds while Mitchell offered up a pair of showtime assists while hitting 7-of-11 shots from the field.
“I felt relaxed,” Mitchell said. “I just let the game come to me. Clemson is always a big game so I just had to turn up the energy.”
Ieasia Walker managed four points but matched Bruner’s rebound total and led the Gamecocks with four assists.
Clemson junior Quinyotta Pettaway, the team’s lone upperclassman, scored 12 points.
Following the game, USC medical director, Dr. Jeffrey Guy, confirmed freshman guard Tiffany Davis suffered a ligament injury to her right knee and that she will undergo season-ending surgery.
Up next for USC is the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam during Thanksgiving weekend.
Percentages: FG .239 FT .833. 3-Point Goals: 1-10 .100 (Jones 0-1, Dixon 0-1, Grant 0-6, Gramlich 0-1, Tuner 1-1. Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 7 (Jones 2, Pettaway 2, Dixon, Jamison-Myers, Ford. Turnovers: 20 (Jones, Pettaway 6, Lindsay 2, Dixon 3, Grant, Gramlich, Turner, Jamison-Myers 2, Dunn 3). Steals: 10 (Pettaway, Dixon 5, Turner 3, Ford). Technical Foul: Dixon.
Percentages: FG .407, FT .629. 3-Point Goals: 0-14 .000 (Walker 0-4, White 0-2, Mitchell 0-1, Sessions 0-2, Montout 0-2, Dozier 0-3). Team Rebounds: 7. Blocked Shots: 2 (White, Welch). Turnovers: 21 (Bruner 3, Welch 3, Walker 5, White, Mitchell, Sessions 2, Montout, Dozier, Ibiam.) Steals: 13 (Bruner 3, Welch, Walker 4, White, Mitchell 2, Montout, Dozier. Technical Foul: Mitchell.
Att.–4,893.. Officials–Tina Napier, Felicia Grinter, Frank Steratore.