COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Carolina’s offense re-ignites to spark a road victory. The top-ranked Gamecocks utilize great teamwork to crush 23rd-ranked Iowa State, 83-65. The trio of sophomore sensations guide the way. Aliyah Boston, Zia Cooke, and Brea Beal all score in double-figures to help Carolina rebound from its first loss of the season.
“We’ve had more focused practices in the last couple of days,” said head coach Dawn Staley. “Rightfully, so. Our players just embraced it. I think they really understand how we need to play and what they need to do for us to win.”
Carolina shot a mere 27% from the field last time out in a home loss against North Carolina State. Staley liked the team’s resolve and execution to improve to 4-1 on the season.
“We need to make people adjust to us and not adjust so much to how they’re playing,” added Staley. “It felt great to know our players had that laser focus to bear down and complete the task. This was a hard game. This was not an easy game.”
On Sunday, the Gamecocks committed to sharing the ball to create quality looks on the offensive end. They finished the game with 21 assists on 30 of their made shots. Carolina connected on 47.6% of its shots from the field while sinking 13 three-pointers.
“What we wanted to do is come in and create some rhythm,” Staley said. “Fortunately for us, when we got our feet set, and we are calculated and got ball movement, reverse the ball a few times, that’s what opens up for us. I’m happy about that.”
Carolina began the game determined to erase the sting from that first defeat of the season. They started on a 10-0 run and opened a 22-point lead by the end of the third quarter. Gamecocks remained relentless on the attack, with all the stars stepping up to push Carolina back into the win column.
Staley mentions facing a top-notch opponent on the road, like Iowa State, significantly contributed to its focus on the floor.
“They locked in and were ready to rock and roll,” mentioned Staley. “I was really proud of our team for responding in that way.”
Perhaps losing last week did the team some good for future successes on the floor.
“Now that I’m 72 hours removed from it, yes,” said Staley. “I don’t think it’s good for your health to lose that way and experience that over and over again. I think having to come back and play a formidable opponent like Iowa State helps.”
South Carolina wraps up non-conference play Thursday, December 17th, at home against Temple.
Stats from the stars:
- Zia Cooke: 19 points, 4 assists
- Aliyah Boston: 13 points, 15 rebounds
- Brea Beal: 13 points
- Destanni Henderson: 12 points, 7 assists