From staff reports/Photo by Allen Sharpe
No. 25 South Carolina women's basketball took down Furman 66-53 at Colonial Life Arena on Sunday afternoon. The Gamecocks (8-4) forced 20 Paladin turnovers and blocked 11 shots to end the 2018 calendar year with a win.
Forward Alexis Jennings led the Gamecocks with 19 points (tied for a season high) on 8-of-11 shooting and added five rebounds. Guard Destanni Henderson poured in 10 points, including a pair of 3s, in her third-straight start. Wing Mikiah Herbert Harrigan shot 4-of-5 from the floor, scored eight points and blocked three shots. It was her fourth-straight game with multiple blocks.
Furman pulled within four points in the middle of the fourth quarter, but a 10-1 run to end the game, including five straight points from Jennings, helped the Gamecocks close out the pesky Paladins at home.
"It's all health related for [Jennings]. She's getting more healthy. The fact that she is getting more healthy, she can do a lot more things out there on the floor," South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said. "Her midrange looks nice and smooth and not rushed. When she gets it in close in the paint, she's automatic. When she gets two feet in the paint, she is pretty much automatic. She's either going to score or get fouled."
South Carolina used an 8-0 run to take control of the game early. Furman pushed back, scoring six of the last eight points in the first quarter to tie the game at 14. But the Gamecocks continued to pound the ball inside, scoring 18 of their 27 points in the paint. Jennings led the Gamecocks in the first half, scoring nine of her 19 points on 4-of-5 shooting, and grabbed a pair of rebounds.
A South Carolina 9-0 run near the end of the first half cemented the 31-27 advantage at the break.
The second half started with a quick pair of buckets for the Garnet and Black, Henderson nailed a 3, and Jennings added a layup to extend the Gamecocks' lead to nine at 9:08 in the third quarter. The lead grew to as large as 12 with a 7-0 run in the quarter, but Furman used a run of its own to end the third quarter. The 8-2 surge cut the South Carolina lead to 47-40 heading into the final quarter.
Carolina shot 75.0 percent in the fourth quarter to wrap up its fifth home victory of the season.
South Carolina forced 21 turnovers, matching a season high that it originally set against Alabama State. Ty Harris registered her fourth game this season with zero turnovers in 21 minutes of action while adding four assists and five points.
The Gamecocks will bring in 2019 against No. 23 Texas A&M on the road on Thursday, Jan. 3, at 9 p.m. to begin SEC play. SC returns home on Sundaay, Jan. 6 to take on Alabama at noon on ESPNU.