Game­cocks mount rally, but fall just short against Ore­gon State

The State (Sunday) - - Sports - BY GREG HADLEY [email protected]­

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.

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