The top-ranked South Carolina women’s basketball team bounced back from an upset at the hands of Missouri to hand Mississippi State an 80-68 defeat on Sunday in Columbia, South Carolina.
Doug Novak’s Bulldogs found themselves in a tight game with their hosts during the first half, but a strong South Carolina run going into the break and at the start of the second half put too much distance between the teams.
The Bulldogs were scheduled to open their season at home against Florida last Thursday, but positive COVID tests and exposures saw that game as well as a planned Monday trip to Kentucky postponed. South Carolina was supposed to play a home game against Ole Miss on Sunday but that game was postponed because of virus issues in the Rebels’ program.
News of the rescheduling of their game against South Carolina was only revealed Saturday, but the hectic activity caused by the sudden change of plans didn’t seem to bother the Bulldogs too much as they came ready to play against the Gamecocks.
“I would give them an ‘A’ on that,” Novak said of the team’s focus through adversity the past few days. “They did a really nice job. No fake or false bravado beforehand; we knew this was going to be a challenge. It was more like a realistic attack on things that we could control.
“We could control a little bit on how we were going to guard that post. We could control how we were going to space the floor and make them guard Anastasia Hayes in the middle of the floor. I was really proud of our team in that aspect.”
Four starters scored in double digits for the Bulldogs, led by JerKaila Jordan with 16 points, but their 3-point shooting continued to be a problem. The team shot 2 of 17 from 3, and that was important for keeping pace with their prolific opponent.
The Gamecocks only hit three more 3-pointers than the Bulldogs, but they were much more efficient from the floor, hitting 50 percent of their shots as opposed to 37 percent by the Bulldogs.
Zia Cooke scored 18 points, and Aliyah Boston finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds for South Carolina (13-1, 1-1 SEC).
Mississippi State is 9-4, 0-1, but arguably their toughest conference test is now out of the way. They get back to their original schedule Thursday with a trip to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to face the Crimson Tide and then host Vanderbilt Sunday for their first SEC home game.