South Carolina Basketball: Three thumbs up, three thumbs down in North Carolina win

South Carolina basketball wing Bree Hall. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina basketball wing Bree Hall. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /
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In a vintage South Carolina basketball performance, the Gamecocks won an ugly, gritty game against the top-25 North Carolina Tar Heels. North Carolina had been struggling a bit coming into the game, but that was not the case on Thursday.

Rather than the 100-point outbursts that have been common for USC this season, Dawn Staley’s team won a game that looked a lot more like the games South Carolina basketball fans have seen in recent seasons, defense was the central theme of the night.

The Gamecocks did just enough to win in a rowdy Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill. The perimeter defense was the best part of Carolina’s night on the court as Coach Staley’s crew held the Heels’ best scorers (Deja Kelly, Alyssa Ustby, and Lexi Donarski) to 17-49 shooting and forced them into 9 turnovers.

The rebounding effort wasn’t good enough (other than from Kamilla Cardoso who grabbed 16 boards), and North Carolina was able to lead the whole first half on the strength of an 8-rebound advantage.

The game was chippy as several mild skirmishes broke out in the first half. Ashlyn Watkins and Kamilla Cardoso were in the middle of most of it for the Gamecocks, and Ustby, Kelly, and Kayla McPherson were involved for North Carolina.

The Gamecocks really only played 6 players as just Te-Hina Paopao, Raven Johnson, Bree Hall, Chloe Kitts, Kamilla Cardoso, and Ashlyn Watkins were the only players to see more than 9 minutes on the floor. The other five Gamecocks all got in the game but didn’t play for long. None of them scored.

In the end, the Gamecock defense was too good, and they slowly clawed their way to a late 3rd quarter lead. After that point, South Carolina maintained their small lead the rest of the way for the 65-58 victory.

533. 58. 441. Final. 65