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WOMENS BASKETBALL


South Carolina 93, Bowling Green 62

College Basketball

By TOM WITHERS
Associated Press

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - Dawn Staley got a heartfelt hug from Fred Chmiel and then something unexpected from her former assistant.

Bowling Green tried a zone defense against the nation’s No. 1 team.

The Gamecocks shot it apart.

Chloe Kitts scored a career-best 21 points, Bree Hall added 18 and South Carolina quickly ended any thoughts Bowling Green may have had of pulling off an historic upset, rolling to a 93-62 win Tuesday night.

Hall made three 3-pointers and the Gamecocks (11-0) hit their first 10 shots while opening an 18-point lead in the first quarter against the Falcons (6-3), who tried to offset South Carolina’s size inside by coming out in a 1-3-1 zone.

“We knew coming in we had to pick our poison,” said Chmiel, who was on Staley’s staff for eight seasons before taking the Bowling Green job during the offseason. “You can’t take everything away from a team like that.”

Chmiel’s zone caught Staley off guard.

“I have to give him a hard time for that,” she said. “If I was a betting woman, I would have bet he would play man (to man). It’s a zone he implemented with us, so it was pretty cool to see him stick with it.”

South Carolina star center Kamilla Cardoso scored 11 before leaving in the fourth quarter with a lower leg injury that didn’t appear serious. Staley said the 6-foot-7 Cardoso was fine and looking forward to going home to Brazil for Christmas.

Morgan Sharps made seven 3-pointers and scored 25 to lead Bowling Green, which fought until the final horn.

While Chmiel was at South Carolina, the Gamecocks went 247-32, developed numerous All-Americans and won national championships in 2017 and 2022. Staley’s relationship with him stretches back nearly 20 years to when they were both with the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting.

“It’s great to see Fred,” Staley said. “He’s a great guy. I know this program is used to winning, and so is he. I wanted him to have his own program and to make an impact on young people the way he made an impact on me.”

Chmiel knew what his team was in for, and the Gamecocks, coming off a 70-point win over Presbyterian, showed why they’re a unanimous No. 1 in the AP poll.

Hall set the tone with her outside shooting and the Gamecocks made their first five 3s before a long miss drew a thankful roar from the sellout crowd inside The Stroh Center on BG’s campus.

“One of the biggest things for us was to go out there and punch them in the mouth first,” Hall said. “That’s what we say — attack first.”

South Carolina ramped up its defensive intensity in the second quarter and took total control. The Gamecocks led by 21 at halftime, pushed it to 31 after three and were up 87-47 in the fourth.

“They make the court look small,” said Chmiel, who enjoyed catching up with his former players. “It’s like seeing relatives you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s a bit bittersweet.”

BIG PICTURE

Bowling Green: This was an uphill battle from the start as the Falcons couldn’t match South Carolina’s size, strength or depth. But it was a chance to see how they measure up, and it will help them — and BG’s program — going forward.

South Carolina: Staley wasn’t going to take it easy on Chmiel — not that he would expect that — and had the Gamecocks focused on both ends. Tougher games await as they try to get back to Ohio in April for the Final Four in Cleveland.

​December 19, 2023






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