COLUMBIA - Doug Robertson wasted little time boarding the South Carolina State women's basketball team's bus Wednesday afternoon outside the Colonial Life Arena.
The matchup with the University of South Carolina marked his 100th game as Lady Bulldogs' head coach. As the team left the lockerroom, Robertson and S.C State were not in a talkative mood after achieving a more dubious milestone following a 66-21 thrashing by the Lady Gamecocks.
Wednesday's rout was the lowest point total ever posted by S.C. State (3-6), who were outrebounded 48-26 and committed 15 turnovers which resulted in 27 South Carolina points. In addition to allowing the least number of points ever to an opponent, the Lady Gamecocks (8-2) also set a school record in holding the Lady Bulldogs to a meager 6-48 (12.5 percent) from the field.
"We were taken to the woodshed today," said Robertson in a post-game telephone interview after not attending the post-game press conference. "It was like ‘The Grinch That Stole Christmas'."
Playing before an enthusiastic crowd of 4,869 fans, which included S.C. State President George Cooper, Athletics Director Charlene Johnson and students from 16 elementary schools rewarded for participation in the Reading with the Gamecocks' program, appeared to rattle the Lady Bulldogs. At one point, they missed 10 straight baskets in going scoreless for 10 ½ minutes in the first half.
While the Lady Bulldogs came out cold, finishing the first half 3-25, the Lady Gamecocks thrived off the feverish fan support. They made three straight 3-pointers in the opening minutes in jumping out to an 18-2 advantage and players like Goose Creek's Aleighsa Welch, who finished with nine points and nine rebounds, and La'Keisha Sutton, who had 12, took turns in carrying the South Carolina offense which shot 12-23 (52.2 percent) in the first half.
"I think it came from our practices and the week that we had off for final exams, we really had a chance to rest our bodies and get some extra work and put up more shots and in practice, we had some fresh legs so we could really compete and get after them on defense against the practice guys," said Sutton, who became the 11th Lady Gamecock to reach 1,000 career points. "That week off really helped us a lot."
Down 35-8, the shooting woes continued in the second half for the Lady Bulldogs. After Columbia native Tiara Knotts hit the team's lone 3-pointer in 10 attempts and added a short jumper with 10:56 left, S.C. State made just one field goal the rest of the game.
Knotts and Courtney Williams led S.C. State with six points each.
Despite the overwhelming lead, the Lady Gamecocks maintained their intensity and enthusiasm in stretching their lead as many as 47 points. Tina Roy led the offense in the second half with seven of her 12 points as South Carolina women's basketball coach Dawn Staley was pleased with the
"This team really has to learn how to win," said Staley, who also coached her 100th game with the program and improved to 50-50. "I think the last couple of games that we've had prior to the last two we always found a way to allow a team back into the game whether that's scoring on large runs to get into our lead or take the lead on us. These last two games I think we've put two 40-minutes games in which there was no let up. There were no big runs. The big runs were on our end."
Robertson declined to discuss what he told the players following the game. He did promise the Lady Bulldogs would regroup for Sunday's road game at Coastal Carolina.
POST-GAME NOTES: Wednesday's win was the 19th consecutive victory in the series for South Carolina. The 8-2 mark is also the Lady Gamecocks' best showing after 10 games since the 2003-04 season...South Carolina guard Imani Sellers of Lake Marion played in the game's final three minutes and was one of only two Lady Gamecocks who did not score...The previous lowest point total for the S.C. State women occurred in 1989 in a 101-32 throttling by Georgia. The previous South Carolina record for least points by an opponent was 24 shared by Georgia Southern in 1992 and Presbyterian earlier this season.
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