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Junior guard Zia Cooke stated South Carolina coach Dawn Staley was pretty quiet through her halftime speech in Monday’s Battle 4 Atlantis championship sport against UConn in the Bahamas.
“She just gave us a several plays that she considered would operate for us,” stated Cooke, whose major-ranked Gamecocks trailed by 3 details at the split. “She told us we have been in the activity. She saved us all enthusiastic.”
And probably Staley only reminded the Gamecocks that they are a really good staff. They confirmed that in rallying to beat UConn 73-57, offering South Carolina its to start with victory in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in plan background just after going -4 in people online games formerly.
The Gamecocks shown a resilience that most teams never towards UConn. South Carolina was down as considerably as 13 in the first fifty percent, which is normally a significant threat zone for Huskies opponents. When they get a double-digit direct, it is pretty tricky to reel them in. The Gamecocks slash the deficit to 36-33 by halftime.
Their second-50 percent defense was a clinic, keeping UConn to 21 details above the two quarters. The Gamecocks minimize down on their turnovers, which aided limit UConn’s transition sport, and they took sensible photographs.
South Carolina is now 6- with three victories in excess of leading-10 groups NC State, Oregon and UConn. The Gamecocks have two much more best-10 matchups in December — vs. Maryland on Dec. 12 and Stanford on Dec. 21 — and then they meet UConn once again on Jan. 27 when the Huskies pay a visit to Columbia, South Carolina, for a rematch.
Listed here is almost everything we acquired from Monday’s match and how it will impact the Gamecocks and Huskies going forward.
South Carolina’s protection wears teams down
And if you can do that to UConn, you can do it to anyone. We know how fantastic the Gamecocks have been at that conclude of the court docket, but Staley discussed that it is not just the clear performs South Carolina built (these kinds of as 11 steals) but the cumulative outcome.
“Our defense did a super task for 40 minutes,” Staley explained. “You didn’t really see the affect in the very first fifty percent. The 3rd and fourth quarters are when you commence experience what our protection does to groups.”
South Carolina restricted UConn to a few details in the fourth quarter, and just 21 in the next half. The Huskies scored 60 or less details for the second consecutive game. Tim Aylen/Bahamas Visible Expert services/AP Photo
Does Staley imagine this team’s protection, for the reason that of its depth, is the very best she has ever experienced? Is it superior, for case in point, than the defense of the 2017 workforce that won the nationwide championship and had players like A’ja Wilson, Alaina Coates, Tyasha Harris and Allisha Grey?
This staff has Aliyah Boston, who experienced 22 factors and 15 rebounds, Brea Beal, Victaria Saxton, Destanni Henderson, Laeticia Amihere, Kamilla Cardoso and Cooke — all people on the roster contributes to the protection.
“You happen to be heading to get me in a minimal bit of hassle,” Staley joked of getting to decide 1 group in excess of an additional, “but indeed, this is the best and the deepest.”
UConn’s 21 details in the second fifty percent — 3 in the fourth quarter — mentioned it all.
“Their protection — they had been quite aggressive, obviously,” UConn guard Christyn Williams stated. “And we just weren’t making the suitable reads at the appropriate position at the correct time.”
UConn has function to do on offense, specially inside of
Sure, it really is just a person video game. But the Huskies beat South Florida 60-53 on Sunday. It is really the very first time because 2012 that UConn has been held to 60 factors or fewer in consecutive online games.
UConn got 43 of its 57 points Monday from its starting guards: Paige Bueckers (19), Evina Westbrook (14) and Williams (10). Commencing forwards Aaliyah Edwards and Olivia Nelson-Ododa merged for 12 factors on 6-of-10 capturing from the industry.
UConn mentor Geno Auriemma stated that possessing junior ahead Aubrey Griffin (out with damage) would have aided. But he acknowledged this was far more an execution issue than a personnel difficulty.
The Huskies benefited from South Carolina turnovers and misses in the to start with half to rating in transition. But when the Gamecocks tightened up on issues in the 2nd half, UConn was not as great in 50 %-courtroom execution. A whole lot of credit, as previously said, goes to a stifling South Carolina defense.
“I think in the fourth quarter, particularly, we just couldn’t definitely get in a flow offensively, and it was just complicated for us,” Westbrook reported. “We knew what we were being executing, but we just couldn’t actually get into it.”
Geno is heading to be Geno
Asked about Bueckers’ efficiency — she was 8-of-19 from the flooring, with 5 rebounds and 7 assists — Auriemma sounded harsh to those less common with the UConn mentor’s techniques.
“I never think she was any superior right now, to be truthful with you,” he said. “The to start with half, there had been a lot of excellent moments that she had. But for the full 2nd 50 %, I really don’t think she was considerably of a component. I really don’t know whether she just obtained exhausted, she was worn down. But it was not the same Paige we’re utilized to viewing.”
UConn’s Paige Bueckers gets the ball in transition and drops in the easy floater.
Contemplating she played 38 minutes Monday and was still the Huskies’ leader in scoring and assists, and tied for the guide in rebounds, Bueckers was hardly a challenge. But this is element of Auriemma’s method — which is time-analyzed and has been effective with so several other stars — in acquiring good gamers. They get challenged — large-time.
Auriemma wants Bueckers to seriously examine the reduction and see what she could have completed better. It’s just like in follow, when he’s regarded to place his group in extremely hard predicaments, like 5-on-8, just to see how his gamers react.
Auriemma even contradicted himself a bit by also expressing that the Huskies had been “seriously, actually superior” for 30 minutes ahead of issues declined in the fourth quarter. Bueckers couldn’t have been that bad if her group was deemed “seriously, genuinely excellent” for 3-fourths of the sport. Auriemma also talked about the will need for an additional perimeter shooting menace to blossom to assist Bueckers, acknowledging she had a whole lot on her shoulders. UConn created just three 3-ideas Monday: two from Westbrook and a single from Bueckers.
Famous UConn point guard Sue Bird tells the tale of how Auriemma informed her prior to her sophomore time, “Something that we do mistaken is going to be your fault.” It was his way of attractive to her management, and it worked spectacularly. Bueckers is going through a comparable variety of Auriemma motivational tactic, and she is aware it.
South Carolina’s bench can be a beast
We pointed out how the Gamecocks’ depth helps their protection. But the bench is an asset all the way all around, as we saw Monday. The 11 points and 10 rebounds the Gamecocks acquired from their reserves made a change.
The 6-foot-7 Cardoso and the 6-5 Amihere supply disruptive sizing and length, and they seem to be to take their roles. They would be starting on a large amount of teams, but it is a big as well as for the Gamecocks to have them come off the bench.
South Carolina’s Destiny Littleton knocks down a 3-pointer late in the 3rd quarter to give the Gamecocks the direct.
Identical for guard Future Littleton, who strike two of South Carolina’s 5 3-tips. There have been occasions in the past versus UConn when the Gamecocks just couldn’t get a lot likely from extensive vary, which created defending them simpler.
This staff doesn’t essentially require a good deal from out there, but it does will need the threat. And Littleton is a person of the players who can offer it.
“They had been just in essence collapsed in the paint, daring us to shoot it or generate downhill. It was a good deal of cluster in there,” Staley reported. “So we experienced to determine out a way to get somebody in there that could strike a shot. We know Destiny Littleton is not shy about having any open up seem.”
Staley praised Littleton for staying all set after she didn’t participate in substantially in South Carolina’s two previous Battle 4 Atlantis game titles she was in for 10 minutes versus Buffalo and 6 from Oregon. She played 15 minutes towards UConn.
“A player like that can pout, and she did not,” Staley explained. “You read her the final two games contacting out the plays and how we should really protect. She just stayed all set. The condition [Monday] known as for her to go out there and stretch the flooring. I am tremendous-pleased this is going to be a confidence booster for her.”
It is really a disgrace that freshman guard Raven Johnson is lost for the season with a knee personal injury. She would have designed the bench even deeper. But it is really however a big weapon as is.
We can glance ahead to the rematch
With Boston’s dominance as a article, the elite two-way attack of Cooke and Henderson at guard, and get-the-filthy-work-completed nature of guard Beal and ahead Saxton, the Gamecocks have a incredibly cohesive commencing five, along with the aforementioned bench. South Carolina has difficulties stacked up in the two the nonconference and SEC schedules, and which is just what Staley wants.
Meanwhile, UConn faces two rated opponents next month, as the Huskies journey to Georgia Tech on Dec. 9 and host Louisville on Dec. 19, moreover the once-a-year showdown with now unranked but undefeated Notre Dame on Dec. 5. Soon after Huge East enjoy commences, UConn will have marquee nonconference game titles at Oregon on Jan. 17, at South Carolina on Jan. 27 and from Tennessee on Feb. 6.
That rematch with the Gamecocks — at what’s guaranteed to be a packed Colonial Daily life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina — will be a superior gauge as to how these groups have enhanced on the way to their supreme intention of successful the countrywide championship.