South Carolina basketball follows up big LSU win with home takedown of Vanderbilt

South Carolina basketball remained undefeated with a home takedown of the Vanderbilt Commodores, following up the LSU win with a strong performance.

South Carolina basketball guard Raven Johnson
South Carolina basketball guard Raven Johnson / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley and her team had a short turnaround after the big LSU win, and up next on the schedule was a good Vanderbilt team that hadn't played in a week. The well-rested Commodores entered the game 17-3 against the undefeated Gamecocks, and the energy difference seemed apparent in the 1st half as Vandy was more active in the early goings.

Kamilla Cardoso won the tip for the Gamecocks and immediately was fouled after being fed the ball. Her two free throw makes opened the scoring, but two post turnovers from the Carolina bigs resulted in 4 points for the 'Dores.

After Carolina retook the lead, a Justine Pissott 3-pointer and a Sacha Washington make gave Vanderbilt the lead two more times, but Kamilla Cardoso snatched it back both times with buckets in the post. The scoring them slowed down as neither team made a shot from the floor in over 3 minutes.

Aga Makurat stopped the slog with 5 points, only interrupted by a Sania Feagin layup. After a few fast-paced misses from each team, Raven Johnson hit a buzzer-beating layup to retake the lead 18-17 as the clock expired at the end of the 1st quarter.

Vanderbilt's 4th 3-ball (and 2nd from Aga Makurat) was the first time the scoreboard lit up in the 2nd period, but back-to-back paint touches gave Carolina the lead back. Cardoso made another shot to bring her scoring total up to 10, and a Tessa Johnson 3-point shot put the home team up 25-21.

A few possessions later, some poor transition defense hurt the Gamecocks, allowing Vandy to cut the lead to 4 again. A Te-Hina Paopao bucket put USC up 29-23, but some questionable officiating saw the referee miss a travel and then call a phantom foul against Chloe Kitts that drew the ire of Coach Dawn Staley. The 'Dores eventually scored on the possession.

Te-Hina Paopao made Carolina's second 3-pointer of the game, but Kamilla Cardoso's 5th-straight missed shot and two more missed 3-pointers brought down the Gamecocks' shooting percentage. Good defense kept Vanderbilt down (a nearly 5 minute scoring drought), and then an Ashlyn Watkins and-one conversion gave USC their largest lead at 37-25.

Iyana Moore and Bree Hall traded 3-pointers, and Makurat brought her scoring total up to 10 points with a pair of free throws before Sania Feagin closed the scorebook for the half with late-clock layup to go up 42-30.

After the halftime intermission, the two teams each made their first shot before Vandy made two in a row and Carolina matched. The lead grew to 14 after a Kamilla Cardoso make, and then the defense forced two Vandy air balls in a row.

The lead ballooned to 20 points after a 12-2 run, but Vanderbilt made three more 3-pointers (2 by Makurat). Thankfully for South Carolina basketball fans, the Gamecocks scored each time in response to keep the 'Dores from coming back too much.

The lead momentarily was 20 again after 4 straight points from Kamilla Cardoso (which brought her up to 23 on the day), but Vandy shrunk the gap a bit as the 3rd period ended with the score sitting at 67-49.

The 4th started with a 3-pointer from freshman MiLaysia Fulwiley, but Vanderbilt answered with 7 points in 35 seconds. After the 7-0 run, Ashlyn Watkins and Sania Feagin scored to go up 18 again, and Carolina coasted to the final buzzer from there.

Along the way, Vanderbilt cut the lead to 15 points a couple of times (the reserves were really struggling on defense), but the Gamecocks held on for the comfortable victory.

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