South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley and her undefeated Gamecock team welcomed the Mississippi State Bulldogs to Columbia on Sunday. Carolina was coming off of a convincing win over the Florida Gators, and Mississippi State allowed Vanderbilt’s first SEC win since February of last year. The Bulldogs also were without a couple of players on Sunday due to injury.
Even so, it was the road team wearing maroon and white that came out ready to play.
Mississippi State stole the opening tip after Kamilla Cardoso won the toss, but a stop led to a quick bucket from Chloe Kitts to open the scoring. A few possessions later, though, Mississippi State took a 7-4 lead after a 3-pointer was followed by a steal and fastbreak bucket.
Cardoso had 6 straight points to keep the Gamecocks right behind the Bulldogs, but MSU’s hot start on offense (including 6 points from Lauren Park-Lane) saw them lead 11-8 at the media timeout.
The lead grew to 15-10 for Mississippi State before Bree Hall and Ashlyn Watkins combined to cut the lead to 1. A few possessions later, Hall knocked down a 3-pointer off of a Raven Johnson assist to give USC a 21-19 lead, their first since the game was 4-2. The Gamecocks’ 7-0 run was ended by a Mjracle Sheppard jumper, but they made their final 5 shots from the floor to finish the 1st period 26-21.
As the 2nd quarter began, the South Carolina basketball squad picked up where they left off with their hot end to the 1st. A quick 6 points (including 4 from Chloe Kitts) in 75 seconds gave the Gamecocks a 32-21 lead.
The scoring slowed as missed shots and turnovers became the norm for the two teams. MiLaysia Fulwiley got on the floor for the first time but promptly missed a layup and fouled Jessika Carter on the other end. Carter then ended the Bulldogs’ 3 1/2 minute field goal drought to bring the lead back down to single-digits.
Two more missed layups from the Gamecocks led to 4 straight points from Jerkaila Jordan, and all of a sudden, the score stood 37-32. USC responded and went on a 7-2 run to finish the half, heading to the locker room with a 44-34 lead.
Just a few possessions into the 2nd half, and the Gamecocks took a 50-36 lead and Kamilla Cardoso secured her 8th double-double of the season. However, USC missed 7 shots in a row to slow down the scoring.
The score stood 54-40 in favor of the home team coming out of the 3rd quarter media timeout, but both teams threw up some ugly bricks. Mississippi State broke out of the funk with two layups, and a Bree Hall wing 3-pointer stopped the bleeding for Carolina. Hall made another a few moments later to push the USC lead to 60-44.
A couple of possessions later, Kamilla Cardoso dished out her 6th assist of the game (this one to Ashlyn Watkins), and the 3rd quarter ended with the CourtCocks leading 62-46.
The final period saw the Gamecocks cruise to the finish line, adding to their lead even with multiple bench players seeing significant run.
A lead that grew to 27 points shrunk to 20 after a 7-0 run from Mississippi State, and the final margin was even closer than that as Carolina won 85-66.