Gamecocks Survive Upset Bid; Defeat Missouri

By Justin Warlick 1/16/2015 |

In the college basketball world, you have to find ways to win each night. The No. 1 Gamecocks did just that in surviving an upset bid from a scrappy Mizzou team to remain undefeated, and improved to 17-0 on the season, and 5-0 in the SEC. The win continued to set the best start by any South Carolina team in program history. While the 5-0 conference start matched the start of the 2002 team.

South Carolina won 60-49 despite shooting 36.8% for the game, clearly the worse of their season.
Dawn Staley praised her team despite the close result, and saying she could see growth from the younger players.

"Every time that we take the floor, we're learning," Staley said following the win. "We've got a lot of young players that need to see this action night in and night out so they know what to expect."
While the offense struggled, the one thing that kept South Carolina from possibility losing its first game of the season was defense.  South Carolina out rebounded Missouri 51-33, shot 29.6% from the field, scored ten points off Tiger turnovers, and allowed none following their own miscues. 

The game started with a fast pace with Tiffany Mitchell scoring the first 8 points of the contest, leading to 8-8 at the first media timeout.  The game then slowed down as Missouri set into their plan of clogging the paint and letting the Gamecocks shoot uncontested shots from the outside. The plan worked as South Carolina shot 32.4 percent for the game, and at times leaving guard Khadijah Sessions unguarded as she stood at the three-point line.  South Carolina never could use the inside game as way to separate themselves from the Tigers. 

The near upset was aided by Missouri guard Sierra Michaelis who scored 22 points in the contest. She used her speed as an undersized forward to create separation from the South Carolina bigs to get open shots at the basket. Her three-pointer with five minutes left in the game cut the lead to 44-41. Mitchell, the Gamecocks leading scorer with 19 points, sparked a 9-2 run to put the game away with a three pointer from the corner. Following a missed Mizzou jumper, Aleghsa Welch scored the final of her 14 points. Alaina Coates made four consecutive free throws to finally put South Carolina up 10 with a minute to play. 

Mitchell said the win was part of the daily grind of playing in the SEC, and not every win was going to be pretty.

"It's really hard to win in the SEC on the road," Mitchell said. "So we just have to hunker down and stay with our game plan."

*Quotes credited to South Carolina Athletic Department  

By Justin Warlick 1/16/2015