USC women give No. 1 Stanford quite a scare

Gamecocks show nation they can compete at elite level

pobley@thestate.comDecember 20, 2012 

Hello, America. The USC women’s basketball team just wanted you to know they are for real.

No. 1 Stanford 53, No. 21 USC 49.

A Cardinal squad who has beaten a team by 49 points this season barely scored more than that in escaping what senior point guard Ieasia Walker suspected was the biggest crowd she had ever seen at Colonial Life Arena.

“We didn’t shock the world, but I think the nation understands the type of basketball we play here at the University of South Carolina,” USC coach Dawn Staley said.

Walker and forward Aleighsa Welch combined for 32 points and the entire team played a suffocating defense that took one of the nation’s most efficient teams completely out of its comfort zone.

“Any time you can shave 25 points off somebody’s average, you’re doing your job,” Staley said. “I thought we made it difficult for them to score in their comfort areas and they really had to think about when they took shots.”

At the other end, the Gamecocks’ superior quickness forced one of the nation’s tallest teams to fall into a zone at one point in the second half.

USC won the turnover battle 18-7. The Gamecocks grabbed 13 offensive boards to Stanford’s 9. They took 16 more shots and nearly matched the Cardinal shot-for-shot in the paint.

Hello, America. Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer just wanted you to know you’ll need a Trapper Keeper to handle all she has to say about Staley.

“I think that South Carolina is fortunate to have her as a coach,” VanDerveer said. “She really prepares her team well. You don’t have enough paper and pen for all the good things I could say about Dawn.”

Stanford came into Wednesday’s game following a string of victories by 35, 28, 49 and 36 points. One team stayed within single digits of the juggernaut — former No. 1 Baylor.

At one point in the first half, Stanford went eight minutes without hitting a shot from the field.

After Welch’s free throw with 74 seconds remaining, Stanford found itself knotted at 45-45 before converting a couple of big baskets and hitting its free throws to escape.

Stanford never led by more than six points and USC took the lead on three occasions.

Chiney Ogwumike led all scorers and rebounders with 21 points and 15 boards. Toni Kokenis had 15 while Amber Orrange added 11 as USC held the Cardinal to 40.4 percent shooting from the field.

Hello, America. Just five years ago, no one would have expected the best player on the nation’s best team to say this about USC:

“South Carolina is definitely a tournament team,” Ogwumike said. “We knew that they were bringing their ‘A’ game. It was a really important game and we knew that by seeing the crowd. It’s great. … We’re fortunate to play in front of this crowd and win.”

South Carolina193049
Min M-A M-A O-T A F PT

Percentages: FG .404, FT .882. 3-Point Goals: 0-4, .000 (Kokenis 0-1, Greenfield 0-1, Samuelson 0-2). Team Rebounds: 6. Blocked Shots: 11 (Tinkle 7, Ogwumike 4). Turnovers: 18 (Orrange 7, Ogwumike 4, Kokenis 3, Tinkle 2, Ruef, Camp). Steals: 4 (Orrange 2, Tinkle, Kokenis).

Min M-A M-A O-T A F PT

Percentages: FG .286, FT .643. 3-Point Goals: 4-15, .267 (Walker 2-5, White 1-3, Dozier 1-3, Sessions 0-1, Mitchell 0-3). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 2 (Mitchell, White). Turnovers: 7 (Mitchell 3, Bruner 2, Ibiam, White). Steals: 10 (Walker 4, Bruner 2, Mitchell 2, Ibiam, White).

A_8,118. Officials_Lisa Mattingly, Tina Napier, Michael Price.

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