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Carolina's upset bid falls short

Top-ranked Stanford was able to hold off a game South Carolina squad to keep its record perfect with a 53-49 victory over the Gamecocks at the Colonial Life Arena. Looking for the program’s first win over a No. 1 opponent and her 250th win as a head coach, Dawn Staley had her team on the brink of an upset but it fell just short in the final minutes.

Dawn Staley

The Cardinal (10-0) kept its record perfect in a hostile environment of 8,118 screaming Gamecock fans. It looked easy early for the visitors, who jumped out to a 14-7 lead early in the contest. South Carolina, however, answered with an 8-0 run to take the lead.

Stanford pulled back ahead and led most of the way but the Gamecocks kept the score close throughout. Over the final minutes of the game, there were three ties and two lead changes and even though the visitors left with a victory, Staley and her squad made an impression on a national level.

"We didn't shock the world,” Staley said,” but I think the nation understands the type of basketball we play here at the University of South Carolina.”

Stanford broke a tie at 45 all with just less than two minutes to play in the game. Cardinal guard Toni Kokenis was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line down the stretch to seal the victory.

Post player Aleighsa Welch led the Gamecocks with a season-high 17 points with 13 of those coming in the second half. Guard Ieasia Walker also had a season-high of 15 points.

"I thought coming into this game, we would be able to hold our own because [our team] understood what it would come down to, and we just fell short,” Staley said. “I think it's tremendous for our program to play in games like this, and I hope that the 8,000 people that came out tonight will come back and see us, because I think we put a good product on the floor that they can cheer loud for.”

The loss was the first of the season for the Gamecocks, which fell to 10-1 on the season. Stanford was the first team to out-rebound South Carolina this season holding a 42-31 edge on the glass.

The Gamecocks return to action on Friday at noon against South Carolina State at the Colonial Life Arena.

Ieasia Walker

Photos by Ryan Bethea

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