South Carolina Basketball: 3 thumbs up, 3 thumbs down vs. South Dakota State

South Carolina basketball freshman MiLaysia Fulwiley. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina basketball freshman MiLaysia Fulwiley. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dawn Staley’s South Carolina basketball squad was not firing on all cylinders on offense when they took on the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. However, the Carolina defense was dominant for most of the game, and the Gamecocks still managed to more than double-up SDSU 78-38.

In a bizarre sight, South Carolina was trailing South Dakota State in the early goings. Other than Kamilla Cardoso, the Gamecocks couldn’t really make anything in the 1st quarter, and it took some nice defensive possessions for USC to hold a small 17-13 lead at the end of the period.

From there, the Carolina defense was downright suffocating, giving up single-digit scoring in each of the three remaining quarters of play. Kamilla Cardoso and Raven Johnson carried the load offensively, combining for over 40 points.

The defensive dominance wasn’t just noticeable for those who watched the game; the box score backs it up. The Gamecocks blocked 16 Jackrabbit shots (Cardoso and Ashlyn Watkins combined for 9) and 15 steals (Johnson and Watkins combined for 9, as well).

The rebounding battle was firmly won by the Gamecocks as six different players wearing garnet and black pulled down at least 5 rebounds. Cardoso led the way with 10, but Chloe Kitts had 9 boards in just 19 minutes.

Kamilla Cardoso and Ashlyn Watkins continued to make their cases for SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Cardoso had 6 blocks and 1 steal and altered an uncountable number of Jackrabbit shots near the rim. Watkins blocked 3 and stole 4 while guarding players from the basket to the 3-point line.

On the negative side of things, South Carolina basketball struggled to score, and they really struggled shooting the ball from outside. Reminiscent of last year’s team that did not knock down perimeter jumpers, the Gamecocks went 0-12 from 3-point land.

It is important to note that the Gamecocks won and won big despite being without two important pieces. Guards Te-Hina Paopao and Tessa Johnson were out with ankle injuries (Johnson also missed the Clemson game).