No. 1 South Carolina avoids upset
The latest installment of the South Carolina vs. Mississippi State rivalry was held in front of a packed house at Colonial Life Arena. It hard fought battle as usual with the No. 1 Gamecocks (18-1) outlasted the No. 9 Bulldogs (16-3) 81-79.
On the final Mississippi State second to last possession with 21 seconds left, the South Carolina defense stood tall, contested Jordan Danberry’s jumper and came up with the rebound. Tyasha Harris hit one of two free throws and the Gamecocks Zia Cooke came up with the steal.
Harris finished with 23 to lead all scorers.
The Gamecocks were down 71-62 with about 7 mins left in the fourth quarter, but kept their heads down, kept attacking and went on a run. Aliyah Boston’s three-point play cut Mississippi State’s lead to 73-71 with 4:57 left. She finished with 21 on the night. On the next South Carolina possession, Cooke drives, pulls up, hits the jumper and draws the foul. She would hit the free throw and give the Gamecocks the 74-73 lead. Cooke had 13 in the game.
The Bulldogs would reclaim the lead, but never got much separation as Harris’ steal and layup cut their lead to just one with 2:41 left in the game. Her jumper on the next South Carolina possession gave the Gamecocks the 80-79 lead.
The Gamecocks had a hard time keeping the Bulldogs in front of them as they got to the basket at will throughout the game and as a result, finished with 54 points in the paint and shot 33-of-67 from the field despite seven South Carolina blocks.
In the third quarter, Danberry’s layup gives the Bulldogs their first lead of the game at 44-43. She added to it after the Bulldgos got a blocked shot on the other end.
Cooke tied the game up at 46-46 with a three and the go a steal, found Beal for a layup and the Gamecocks were back up, 48-46 three minutes into the third quarter.
The two teams continued to trade baskets in the third. A three by Mississippi State’s Aliyah Matharu tied it back up at 54-54.
Mississippi State would later take a 58-54 lead and the Gamecocks just went to work inside. Beal cuts and gets a basket, then Boston gets a layup, followed by a Cooke shot after LeLe Grissett’s block. 60-58. Destanni Henderson’s layup for South Carolina cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 63-62. The Gamecocks went into the fourth quarter trailing 65-62.
The Gamecocks came out aggressive with Mikiah Herbert Harrigan starting the game off with a 3-pointer, followed by a Brea Beal layup in transition to ptu the Gamecocks ahead 5-0 early.
Jumpers were also falling in the first quarter as Tyasha Harris hit a few and scored 10 points in the opening period. Mikki starts off with a 3 then Brea Beal gets out in transition 5-0. Aliyah was working hard in the post and when the looks weren’t there she popped out to the free throw line and found a cutting Harris for the basket and the foul. Her free throw made it a 10-4 game early.
The second quarter saw Herbert Harrigan score her 1000 point on a cut to the basket that also drew a foul. She finished with 14 in the game.
The Gamecocks built a nine-point lead but saw it evaporate as the Bulldogs scored 30 points in the paint and shot 17 of 33 from the field. South Carolina went into the halftime break with a slight 43-42 lead.