Gamecocks mount rally, but fall just short against Oregon State
Again and again, Oregon State women’s basketball would stretch its lead just to the point of seeming in complete control, only for South Carolina to come storming back.
The Gamecocks never led Friday in a clash of top-15 teams but still managed to produce a thrilling contest before ultimately falling short against the Beavers, 70-68, in the semifinals of the Vancouver Showcase.
In the end, missed opportunities haunted USC (3-2) — A day after hitting a season-high 11 3-pointers against East Tennessee State, the Gamecocks went 1-for-8 from long range in the first three quarters. Entering the game shooting 72.3 percent from the free throw line, Carolina shot 59 percent, including 3-for-8 in the third quarter. All told, South Carolina shot 34.2 percent from the field, a season-low and second worst mark since the beginning of last year.
Poor shooting and cold stretches like that allowed the Beavers to build leads of 13 points in the second quarter and 15 in the fourth 23-10 lead early in the second quarter. It also helped that OSU shot 45 percent from 3 on the game.
However, USC redshirt senior forward Alexis Jennings repeatedly helped to power her team back into the game, despite standing significantly shorter than Oregon State’s lofty post combo of Joanna Grymek (6-foot-8) and Patricia Morris (6foot-7). Jennings posted Carolina’s first doubledouble of the season before the third quarter was even over and finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds on the night.
USC’S lone 3-pointer in the first half, from redshirt senior guard Nelly Perry, closed the Gamecocks to within four points in the second quarter, and USC got within one possession with 1:51 before the break. But Oregon State came right back and took an eight-point lead into halftime after redshirt sophomore guard Destiny Slocum got a buzzer-beating halfcourt heave.
After the halftime break, an early 8-2 run powered completely by redshirt senior guard Te’a Cooper closed the gap to within two points once again. But South Carolina’s shooting woes resurfaced, as the Gamecocks shot below 30 percent for the quarter and went 3-for-8 from the free throw line, allowing Oregon State to once again stave off the rally and reassert control.
After a lackluster start to the fourth quarter, the Gamecocks trailed by 15 points with 6:32 left to play. That’s when a 3pointer from freshman guard Destanni Henderson sparked the start of a massive turnaround that included three other made 3-pointers and four offensive rebounds. The last 3-pointer, from Cooper with 25 seconds left to play, tied the game and gave her a season-high 22 points.
But with two seconds left to play, junior guard Tyasha Harris committed a foul to send OSU senior guard Katie Mcwilliams to the free throw line. She made both shots, and Cooper air-balled a frantic 3-point attempt to end the game.
South Carolina faceed Drake late Saturday in the third place game.