No. 17 South Carolina 74, S. Dakota St. 52
South Dakota State coach Aaron Johnston figures the one way the
Jackrabbits could have won their NCAA tournament opener on Saturday
was to get a better seed.
The 13th-seeded Jackrabbits were no match in a 74-52 loss to No.
4 seed South Carolina, which got 15 points and 11 rebounds from
The Gamecocks (25-7), who won a school-record 11 Southeastern
Conference games this season, used their superior athleticism and
stout defense to make quick work of the Jackrabbits (25-8), the
Summit League regular season and tournament champs.
The Jackrabbits hung tough for about 10 minutes, then the
Gamecocks broke down their man-to-man defense and started getting
easy looks at the basket and making plenty of trips to the foul
The Jackrabbits have been one-and-done in each of their past
four trips to the NCAA tournament, seeded 14th, 15th, 13th and
Their only NCAA win came in 2009, when they were a No. 7 seed
and beat TCU before losing to Baylor.
”Well, it’s a challenge,” Johnston said. ”I remember our
first year we were a 7 seed and that’s a much better position to be
in versus who you’re going to be playing against. If we stay in
that 13-14-15 seed, we’re going to be playing people who are top-20
”We’ve played the kind of non-conference schedule that it takes
to get a little better seed, and I thought we played pretty well
this year. We just didn’t have a couple of (more) wins that we
So, while the Gamecocks advanced to the second round Monday, the
Jackrabbits prepared to go home and work toward that elusive better
”The difference between being a 13 seed and a 10 seed is
probably two wins for us,” Johnston said. ”We’re not talking
about having to go back and reshape everything we do.”
The Gamecocks are seeking their second straight trip to the
round of 16 under coach Dawn Staley, who led Virginia to three
Final Fours as a player.
Guard Ieasia Walker, the SEC defensive player of the year,
finished with 15 points. She also helped hold South Dakota State to
33 percent shooting in the first half as the Gamecocks raced to a
44-26 halftime lead on the strength of 61 percent shooting and 10
South Carolina led by as many as 27 in the second half as the
Jackrabbits, despite 15 points from Ashley Eide, didn’t have a run
Elem Ibian added 13 points and eight rebounds while patrolling
the paint for the Gamecocks.
Only four teams have reached the 60-point mark against South
Carolina, and the Jackrabbits looked primed to make it five when
they hung with the Gamecocks for the first 10 minutes of the
The Gamecocks, who matched last season’s win total with their
25th victory, the most by the program in the SEC era (beginning
1991-92), found their shooting touch midway through the first half,
sinking seven straight shots to build a 28-21 lead.
”They were just really getting to the basket and making free
throws and, you’re fouling them, so they were making free throws,
too,” Jackrabbits center Katie Lingle said.
The Gamecocks began pulling away when Tiffany Mitchell and Asia
Dozier sank 3-pointers from the left corner to push the lead to
”We just didn’t recover,” Johnston said.
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