November 26, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) All five starters scored 12 points or better as South Carolina broke a two-game losing streak with an 89-75 win over UNC-Asheville on Wednesday night.

Led by Laimonas Chatkevicius' 17 points and 13 rebounds - his first career double-double - the Gamecocks (3-3) overcame a Bulldogs team that ran the floor like a track meet and launched quick shot after quick shot.

''After two losses, the whole team was just trying to go out there and do their best,'' Chatkevicius said. ''Just happened to be me being in the right spot.''

UNC-Asheville (2-3) saw very few go in, hitting just 23 of 63 (36.5 percent). And with South Carolina limiting second chances with 10 blocked shots and 29 defensive rebounds, the Gamecocks began to pull away.

''As crazy as this sounds, defensively, I thought we were pretty good,'' South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. ''When you're playing a special player, it makes it harder. (Andrew) Rowsey's special. I thought he'd give in. That kid's a fighter.''

South Carolina's three-guard attack finally woke from its slumber, getting 12 points each from Sindarius Thornwell, Ty Johnson and Duane Notice. Demetrius Henry added 15 points.

The Bulldogs were led by Rowsey, who sank six 3-pointers among his 30 points. UNC-Asheville launched 29 3-pointers and hit 15. Asheville had 22 turnovers to South Carolina's 20.

South Carolina tried to go to its post players early in the game but struggled. Chatkevicius, a junior 6-foot-11 center, missed four point-blank shots in the paint but recovered in the second half. He drained two 3-pointers when he'd only made three in his entire career, all as a freshman.

''I told him after the game, I've been challenging him for two-and-a-half years to play up to his capabilities more consistently,'' Martin said. ''He did that in the second half.''

''I wasn't expecting anything big,'' Chatkevicius said. ''After two losses, the whole team was just trying to go out there and do their best.''

The Gamecocks began pulling away with nine minutes to play after Chatkevicius rebounded his own miss for a layup. David Robertson stroked a 3-pointer to make it a seven-point game, but USC scored the next 13 points as the defense forced turnovers and limited the Bulldogs' looks from the perimeter.

South Carolina shot 51.7 percent from the floor. Discounting Rowsey, the Bulldogs shot 29 percent.

TIP-INS

UNC Asheville: Corey Littlejohn, a senior guard from Columbia who prepped at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, started and scored five points with three rebounds. He was 1-of-7 from the field with six turnovers.

South Carolina: Anthony Jordan was the head official. Jordan gained notoriety during the 2013-14 season when he accidentally collided with guard Ty Johnson on a fast break and broke Johnson's foot. Johnson missed the final 18 games of the year. Jordan did apologize to Johnson later on when he called one of USC's games, but Wednesday was the first game he'd called with Johnson playing since the accident.

MASH UNIT

South Carolina: Junior forward Michael Carrera missed the game due to a concussion. He also had his left foot in a walking boot and was on crutches. Martin said the boot was a precaution for a sprained ankle but didn't know if Carrera would be available for the next game, since concussions are always tricky. Without Carrera, the Gamecocks had 10 dressed players.

Ty Johnson also went down in the second half with a bruised hip but returned to the game.

UP NEXT

South Carolina travels to Marshall on Monday.

UNC Asheville hosts Charlotte on Sunday.

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