South Carolina's bench making the most of extended minutes

Chaunte'l Powell

The South Carolina Gamecocks have received a considerable amount of praise from opponents, particularly in the SEC. One of the elements of this year’s team that has been cited by a number of coaches is the depth.

Monday that was on full display as the Gamecock bench scored 48 of the team’s 95 points. South Carolina’s bench outscored Vanderbilt as a team 48-44.

“This quite possibly could be, as scary as it sounds, one of the best teams [Dawn Staley has] had,” Vanderbilt head coach Stephanie White said. “It’s one of the most well balanced teams, inside and out. Certainly an incredibly aggressive and solid defensive team and getting not just the balance from inside and out, but multiple players stepping up all the time.”

Monday was Destanni Henderson’s time to shine. The sophomore guard ran the show for most of the second half and finished with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Of the 11 people that played, 10 scored. Henderson said she felt it was her responsibility to ensure there was no drop off between the starters and the second unit.

“My personally, I just had to facilitate and get everybody involved and just keep pushing the tempo,” she said. “The more people are able to get in rhythm, they’ll knock down shots, so I just had to keep that motivation for them and tell them to keep shooting.”

With the regular season winding down and the SEC tournament right around the corner, Staley getting the bench ready is a key part of their gameplan.

“For us, we’ve relied all season long. This is really an opportunity for them just to play expanded minutes,” she said. “Minutes in which they can work on some of things that they don’t get a chance to in some of the games they’ve played.”

In the Vanderbilt contest, Lele Grissett came off the bench and was aggressive, finishing with a game-high 14 points. Laeticia Amihere recently returned from playing with the Canadian national team and is looking to back into the swing of things with the Gamecocks. She finished with nine points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 14 minutes. Saxton brought energy and hustle in the second half and finished with eight points and five rebounds.

Overall, Staley said she liked what she saw.

“I thought LeLe was a great spark for us. Destanni Henderson is playing extremely well. We don’t try to run up the score or anything, but for some players they need to play at the pace that we have to play at, no matter what the score, or what time is left on the clock. They played fluid basketball and that’s what we need.”

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Chaunte'l Powell