No. 17 South Carolina 74, S. Dakota St. 52
The 13th-seeded South Dakota State Jackrabbits were matching No.
4 seed South Carolina basket for basket, big play for big play
Then, the Gamecocks hit seven straight baskets midway through
the first half, sparking a 74-52 rout of the Jackrabbits in the
opening round of the NCAA women’s tournament.
”The momentum was great. We gave them no slack and kept the
pressure on,” said Ashley Bruner, who led South Carolina with 15
points and 11 rebounds. ”We were eye-to-eye with them at that
point. Then the momentum went in our direction.”
After that, 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.
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
Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley said her halftime speech was about
”We forced them to play quicker than they wanted to play,” she
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, almost 10 above her average, 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,
hitting seven straight shots to build a 28-21 lead.
They began pulling away when Tiffany Mitchell and Asia Dozier
made 3-pointers from the left corner to push the lead to double
”You can force momentum by picking up defense,” Staley said.
”After the first seven minutes, we got our footing. We were
hitting shots, which makes life easier.”
This was the Jackrabbits’ fifth straight NCAA tournament
appearance. But after beating TCU in their first NCAA game in 2009,
they’ve lost five straight times in the NCAAs.
The Jackrabbits have been one-and-done in each of their past
four trips, to the NCAA tournament, seeded 14th, 15th, 13th and
13th. 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,” Jackrabbits coach Aaron 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 teams.
”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, the Jackrabbits prepared to go
home and regroup.
”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.”
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