(UW Athletics release)
Columbia, S.C. (Dec. 6, 2017) – The Cowboys were held to 34 percent from the field and connected on 6-of-25 from behind the three point line in a 80-64 loss to South Carolina on Wednesday evening in the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C. The Pokes fall to 6-3 on the season with the Gamecocks, a 2017 Final Four Participant moving to 7-2 on the year.
“I told the team after the game within the battle we didn’t come out on the right end, but there was an opportunity for growth,” UW head coach Allen Edwards said. “I thought in the first half we did a great job locking up on defense, but I thought the physicality wore on us in the second half when you looked at the stats. I thought it was within a five minute segment in the second half when they hit a couple of threes and it extended the lead.”
The Pokes were led by junior guard Justin James, as he recorded a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds for back-to-back double-doubles for the first time in his career. He went 11-of-14 from the free throw line for a career-high. Senior forward Hayden Dalton added 12 points and did not hit a three pointer for only the second time this season. Senior guard Louis Adams added 12 points for the Pokes for his fifth game in double-figures this season.
The Gamecocks shot 45 from the field on the night. South Carolina also held the advantage on the glass 43-34. South Carolina scored 24 points off of 18 Cowboy turnovers. Wyoming brought pressure defensively as well creating 17 turnovers by the Gamecocks.
“What I was pleased about was in the huddle the guys stayed the course and kept fighting,” Edwards said. “The energy coming out of the good and we took a shot from them in the first half, but came out with good energy. South Carolina is a team that keeps coming at you with their physical play.”
Both teams battled offensively with the Gamecocks taking a 15-12 lead into the first media timeout of the game at the 13:43 mark of the opening frame. The Pokes opened the game 5-of-9 from the field, as the Gamecocks went 6-of-12 from the shooting including hitting two three pointers.
After the hot start offensively, the Pokes slowed down going scoreless for nearly five minutes, as the Gamecocks built a 20-12 lead. Herndon ended the run with a dunk to make it a 20-14 game with 9:13 remaining in the frame. Wyoming went 0-of-7 from the field after the fast start.
The Pokes went on an 8-0 run over 2:13 to tie the contest at 20-20 with seven minutes remaining in the first half. The run saw the Gamecocks go scoreless for over four minutes. A dunk on a backdoor cut from Louis Adams highlighted the stretch for UW.
South Carolina would later build their lead 31-22 using a 9-0 run over 3:54 seconds. The Pokes turned the ball over four times during the stretch of play. It was the largest lead of the half for the Gamecocks until a jumper late gave South Carolina a 35-25 lead at the half.
The Pokes would cut the deficit to four points at 37-33 in the opening three minutes of the half. Led by a three pointer from senior guard Alexander Aka Gorski and a trio of freebies from James. The Gamecocks would go 4-for-4 from the field after that to build a 48-35 lead with 14:11 remaining.
James kept on getting to the free throw line for the Pokes, but the Gamecocks hit 4-of-6 shots from behind the arc in the first 10 minutes of the second half to build their lead to 59-44. The Pokes cut the deficit to 10 points at 61-51 with under 10 minutes remaining, but the hot shooting by South Carolina continued building the lead back to 15 points.
South Carolina continued to hit shots late connecting on over 50 percent of their shots in the final half to earn the 80-64 win.
South Carolina was led by forward Chris Silva, as he recorded a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Felipe Haase added 17 points and nine rebounds off the bench for South Carolina. Guard Frank Booker added 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
The Cowboys open a five-game homestand on Saturday playing host to Pacific University inside the Arena-Auditorium for a 4 p.m. start.