Davis, No. 6 South Carolina women beat Minnesota 98-58 (Dec 11, 2016)
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Kaela Davis stepped up to the challenge, as did No. 6 South Carolina in putting away any lingering concerns about its loss last time out.
Davis, who started the previous seven games, had six 3-pointers coming off the bench and scored 22 points as the Gamecocks routed Minnesota 98-58 Sunday.
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley was concerned about her team's lack of defense in a 74-63 loss at Duke last week and spent practices stressing technique, so much so that she swapped out starters Davis and Bianca Cuevas-Moore for Doniyah Cliney and Tyasha Harris.
So when Davis finally got in, she made it count with her second-best scoring performance this season.
''Obviously, Coach made a decision and whenever that decision is made, it's our job to respond,'' Davis said. ''That's what I had to do and that was my purpose.''
Overall, the Gamecocks (7-1) tightened things up by holding Minnesota (7-4) to under 30 percent shooting.
Leading scorer Carlie Wagner, averaging 20 points a game coming in, was just 1-of-12 shooting for a season-low six points.
''They did a good job of crowding her and not giving her a lot of open looks,'' Golden Gophers coach Marlene Stollings said.
Exactly what Staley had hoped for. She didn't count on the 16 3-pointers - a high for Staley's nine seasons - which was one off the program record set against Western Carolina in 1994.
Davis, a Georgia Tech transfer, was in the middle of that, too. She hit five of her first six shots from behind the arc as the Gamecocks built a 57-27 halftime lead.
Kenisha Bell led Minnesota with 16 points.
Alaina Coates had 16 points and 11 rebounds, her fifth double-double of the season and 47th of her career. She also had four of South Carolina's nine blocks.
Gray made four 3s and added a team-high seven assists.
The Gamecocks used a 15-0 start and an 18-0 run in the second quarter to put it away.
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers won 20 or more games the past three seasons and won 11 Big Ten Conference games the last two years under Stollings. But those teams featured conference players of the year in Amanda Zahui B. (2015) and Rachel Banham. Minnesota hasn't yet developed the inside game to go along with Wagner's scoring and will have to do it with quick - it starts league play at Ohio State on Dec. 28.
South Carolina: Cuevas-Moore played turnover-free as the Gamecocks built a big lead while holding Minnesota to 25 percent (7 of 28) shooting the first two quarters.
LETTING IT FLY
Staley preaches going inside with 6-foot-5 A'ja Wilson and 6-4 Coates underneath. But she's OK with her players taking and making open shots as they did against Minnesota.
''We're in a groove, we're going to take them,'' she said. ''I've never put handcuffs on any of our players as far as shooting the basketball.''
COLD LIKE MINNESOTA
The Golden Gophers were held to their second-worst shooting performance of the season, making just 18 of 63 shots (28.6 percent). The only poorer showing came in a 70-58 loss to Georgia last month when they shot 27.1 percent. Stollings said her team, which includes nine newcomers, was a bit overwhelmed facing the talented Gamecocks. Stollings said the team will quickly move past this and improve.
Minnesota: Home for two games and plays Belmont on Wednesday night.
South Carolina: Faces rival Clemson, a surprise undefeated team, on Thursday night.