Columbus, OH — The Buckeyes came out tonight attempting to avenge their end of the fourth quarter loss to South Carolina last year, but they fell just short once again to the Gamecocks.
“We weren’t able to really take our time and figure things out at the start of the season this year, coming in and playing a top team like Ohio State our first game,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “But I’m glad we weren’t able to. This was a great win to start the season off.”
The first half was a back-and-forth battle between the two teams. All-American Kelsey Mitchell led the Buckeyes with 13 points, followed by Shayla Cooper and Stephanie Mavunga each with six. South Carolina couldn’t seem to get in front of Mavunga early in the first and second periods, as she maneuvered her way into the key to pulling down six first-half rebounds.
It was the Kaela Davis show for South Carolina tonight as she led the Gamecocks with a third of their total points at 15 early in the game. And as if this wasn’t enough, she added seven rebounds and three assists to close the first half. Alisha Gray contributed with another 10 points and three assists, and Alaina Coates competed with Mavunga’s rebounding game tonight totaling a total eight rebounds by the end of the half.
Ohio State’s Kiara Lewis helped close the gap with 30 seconds left in the half, scoring a field goal for the Buckeyes and trailing the Gamecocks, 44-39.
Mitchell helped keep Ohio State in the game at the start of the third, scoring two challenging field goals in a row to narrow South Carolina’s lead to just three points. Davis managed to slide her way in the middle of the pack, though, stealing the ball and catching a two to keep the Gamecocks rolling.
Davis wasn’t done though. Another two followed by a three-pointer gave South Carolina a six-point lead with just two minutes left in the third. Ohio State attempted to come back with free throws after being fouled behind the arc by the Gamecocks, but South Carolina didn’t back down and enhanced their lead to eight points, ending the third, 67-59.
“Our big thing was to slow Kelsey Mitchell down tonight and make her take tough shots, and we did that,” Davis said. “It’s exciting to come in and play a good team like Ohio State and take away a solid win from it.”
Great passing plays by Cooper and Mavunga allowed the Buckeyes to go on a 4-0 run to start the fourth. But it was all about Davis and Gray tonight — much like the first half. Gray and Davis lead South Carolina on an 8-0 run within about a minute, concluding it with a picture-perfect, three-point swish by Davis.
As much as the Buckeyes fought, there was nothing they could do to slow down not only the Gamecock, but Davis who proved unstoppable tonight.
Davis would go on to finish the game with a total 37 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and lead South Carolina to victory over the Buckeyes, 92-80.