ATHENS, Ga. — On Sunday, with a brilliant defensive effort, the USC womens basketball team hit the road and held one of the SECs most explosive teams to 42 points.
During one 14-minute stretch, the explosive Georgia Bulldogs managed two baskets.
The Gamecocks lost anyway, 42-40.
Its just a shame somebody had to lose this game, USC coach Dawn Staley said. Because both teams played extremely hard. This is what our league is all about. Its hard to win games on the road.
I think if were in Colonial Life Arena, we win the game, Staley added. Theyre here. They won the game.
The Bulldogs (15-2, 3-1 SEC) won by matching USCs defensive intensity, if only in effort and not approach.
Playing a primarily zone defense, the Bulldogs accounted for every Gamecock save one Aleighsa Welch. The USC sophomore forward lit up Georgia for 14 first-half points, then scored the first two buckets of the second half to give the Gamecocks a 29-25 lead.
She would manage one free throw the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, USC (14-3, 2-2) countered with an active man-to-man defense that stymied the leagues third-best scoring offense (74.4 points per game).
End result: The teams combined for 45 turnovers and shot less than 40 percent from the field, including 1-for-20 from 3-point range.
In the end, it came down to the end.
Leading 41-40, Georgia ran down the clock until Ann Marie Armstrongs errant jumper with 20 seconds remaining. But Jasmine Hassell wrested away the offensive rebound and was fouled in the process. She hit one of two free throws for a two-point lead.
USC had the last shot, but Ashley Bruners short runner airballed as time expired.
The game came down to being able to make plays, Staley said. They were able to make some plays down the stretch with Hassell scoring on the block and getting an offensive rebound, and we werent.
Georgia scored 16 points off USC turnovers, or two more than USC scored off the Bulldogs mistakes.
I think we were trying to make plays at times and kind of overthrew it or passed it when the defender was there or forced it too much, USC guard Ieasia Walker said. I think we were troubled by the zone, kind of forcing shots. I dont think we were ready to knock down outside shots, which they were forcing us to do, which isnt our strongest point right now.
The 40 points were USCs fewest since a 70-32 loss at Stanford on Nov. 26, 2010. The 42 points were the fewest Georgia has scored in a victory, besting the first win in program history a 43-42 verdict against Dekalb College.
They held Vanderbilt to, what, 13 field goals? Georgia coach Andy Landers said. Theyre really good defensively, and we knew we were going to have to be very good. Theyre going to be in your face, defend screens and defend away from the ball.
Welch and Hassell each finished with 19 points, the only players in double figures. USC outrebounded Georgia 37-28.
The Gamecocks will return home and play host to LSU on Thursday before traveling to Florida on Sunday.
Percentages: FG .340, FT .500. 3-Point Goals: 0-11, .000 (Sessions 0-1, Dozier 0-1, Mitchell 0-2, White 0-2, Walker 0-5). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 0. Turnovers: 24 (Walker 5, Mitchell 5, Bruner 4, White 4, Ibiam 2, Welch 2, Sessions). Steals: 13 (Walker 6, White 3, Mitchell, Welch, Ibiam, Bruner). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .370, FT .583. 3-Point Goals: 1-9, .111 (Miller 1-2, Ford 0-1, Donald 0-1, Butler 0-1, Griffin 0-1, Hempe 0-1, Armstrong 0-2). Team Rebounds: 5. Blocked Shots: 1 (Causwell). Turnovers: 21 (James 7, Hassell 3, Griffin 3, Barbee 3, Armstrong 2, Causwell 2, Donald). Steals: 11 (James 5, Armstrong 2, Griffin 2, Hempe, Barbee). Technical Fouls: None. A3,579. OfficialsLisa Mattingly, Brian Hall, Mike McConnell.