Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dawgs Beat South Carolina


The Dawgs overcame a 10-point second-half deficit to take the lead with 1:09 to play, and held on for a 66-61 win over South Carolina Saturday afternoon at Stegeman Coliseum.

South Carolina had led by double digits, 52-42, with 9:12 to play in the second half before the Dawgs kicked off the comeback and relied on clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch to put away the Gamecocks. The win pushes the Dawgs to 11-12 (3-7 SEC) while USC falls to 14-10 (5-5). The Dawgs were also able to avenge a heartbreaking 778-77 loss to South Carolina on the road Jan. 30 as the series between the conference rivals is now even at 47 apiece.

The Dawgs saw a balanced offensive performance as Trey Thompkins led the way with 21 points and was followed by Jeremy Price’s 16 and Travis Leslie’s 15. Thompkins paired that with 10 boards for his sixth double-double effort of the season.

South Carolina’s Devan Downey and Brandis Raley-Ross each tallied 18 for the visitors.

“This is a terrific win for our players,” said head coach Mark Fox. “We beat a very good basketball team. We beat a team that is very well-coached and understands how to play together so we had to play our tails off to do that. I’m very pleased to leave here with a win.”

“What is pleasing to me is that deep down inside we still had some fight in us,” Fox said of the comeback. “We kept clawing away and had some shots go in and all of a sudden that determination deep inside started to show. When your team can respond to some adversity late in the game, in a game that wasn’t the prettiest, it pleases you. I was really proud of them for that.”

The Gamecocks’ largest lead in the first half had been seven, 17-10, with 11:39 on the clock. But the Dawgs took back the lead at 21-19 with 4:47 left, and extended their own first-half edge to as many as five in the opener before a three-pointer for Downey over two Dawg defenders knotted it at 31 at the buzzer.

Having stared down the 10-point South Carolina lead in the second, the Dawgs cut the deficit to four, 54-50, when Thompkins stepped up for a three from the top of the key with 4:56 to go.

A 7-0 run Dawg run over two minutes gave the Dawgs the one-point lead with 1:09 on the clock on a pair of Price free throws. Raley-Ross was off the mark on a three attempt at the other end and Thompkins corralled the rebound to give it back to the Dawgs

Raley-Ross was then whistled for a foul to send Leslie to the line with 34 ticks remaining and the sophomore hit both to extend the Dawgs lead to three. It would then turn into the fouling game, as the Gamecocks missed two more attempts from the beyond the arc on their next possessions and Thompkins was a perfect 4-of-4 from the line in the final 14 seconds to seal it for the Dawgs.

The Dawgs travel to meet Tennessee on Wed., Feb. 17 at 8 p.m..

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