COLUMBIA, SC March 25, 2015 – No. 3/4 South Carolina begins play in the NCAA Tournament’s most challenging regional as all four teams are ranked in the top 15, including three in the top 10. The Gamecocks (32-2, 15-1 SEC) take on No. 15/12 North Carolina on Fri., March 27, at 7 p.m. at Greensboro Coliseum.
Opponent: No. 15/12 North Carolina (26-8, 10-6 ACC)
Date: Friday, March 27, 2015 | 7 p.m.
Site: Greensboro, N.C.
Arena: Greensboro Coliseum (22,000)
Broadcast: ESPN2 (Pam Ward, pxp; Carolyn Peck, analyst; Maria Taylor, sideline); ESPN3
Radio: 107.5 The Game (Brad Muller)
Live Stats: GamecocksOnline.com
Tickets: NCAA Women’s Basketball Regionals & NCAA Women’s Basketball Regional Finals
South Carolina Notables
- South Carolina is in its 41st season of women’s basketball. It is the program’s 24th season in the SEC and the seventh under head coach Dawn Staley. The back-to-back SEC champion has won at least 25 games in each of the last four seasons and played in the last four NCAA Tournaments, including three trips to the Sweet 16 (2012, 2014, 2015). The Gamecocks have spent 30 straight weeks ranked in the AP top 10, highlighted by 12 weeks at No. 1 this season.
- After repeating as SEC regular-season champions, the Gamecocks claimed their first SEC Tournament title this season in their first appearance in the championship game, defeating then-#5/5 Tennessee.
- Just two of the four Regionals feature four nationally ranked teams, and Greensboro seems to be the toughest with three top-10 teams and North Carolina coming in at No. 15/12. The Oklahoma City Regional is the other behind No. 2/2 Notre Dame, No. 5/6 Baylor, No. 14/17 Stanford and No. 18/15 Iowa.
- South and North Carolina are facing each other in the NCAA Sweet 16 for the second-straight season, making the Tar Heels the Gamecocks’ first repeat NCAA Tournament foe in program history.
- South Carolina’s offense ranks 20th in the nation with 76.3 points per game and fourth in field goal percentage at .483. Both are the highest numbers of the Staley era, and the Gamecocks have shot 40.0 percent or better 27 times in 34 games this season, including 16 games of at least 50.0 percent accuracy. The Gamecocks have lifted their production even further in postseason action, averaging 89.0 points on 59.5 percent shooting in NCAA Tournament play.
- Consistently one of the top defensive team in the nation, South Carolina is seventh in the country in scoring defense, allowing 52.9 points per game while holding opponents to just 34.4 percent shooting (sixth in the nation). Just four opponents have scored more than 63 points and 15 failed to surpass 50 points. The Gamecocks have limited an opponent to less than 30.0 percent shooting eight times.
- The Gamecock offense is a delicate balance of power. South Carolina is 31-0 when out-scoring opponents in the paint with 16 games of at least half its total points coming in the paint for a 39.5 average. Not a single-strength team, however, the Gamecocks average 4.9 3s per game and lead the SEC with 35.0 percent shooting beyond the arc, which includes 17 games making more than one-third of their attempts.
- South Carolina’s bench is among the most productive in the nation, accounting for 48.4 percent of the team’s 76.3 points per game (36.9 ppg). The group has out-scored the Gamecocks’ starters 18 times this season, including 11 SEC games, and has provided the team’s top scorer 16 times and the co-top scorer three other times.
- South Carolina has out-rebounded its opponent 30 times this season with a 29-1 record in those games, including all five postseason contests and 15 SEC regular-season outings (tied at Kentucky, Mar. 1). A Gamecock has reached double-figure rebounds 26 times this season, including a team-high 13 times by sophomore Alaina Coates.
- While all eyes – and scouting reports – are trained on the Gamecocks’ four All-SEC selections, a trio of juniors – Asia Dozier, Tina Roy and Khadijah Sessions – have shown the ability to step into the spotlight when needed, especially from outside the arc. Dozier’s four 3s, including three in the first 5:00, against Syracuse forced the Orange to cede space in the paint. Roy made 4-of-5 from long range in the second half against LSU to propel the Gamecocks into the SEC Tournament title game. Sessions is more selective but equally effective from outside the arc, shooting 50.0 percent in the postseason and 42.3 percent over the last 15 games.
- Sophomore center Alaina Coates is the Gamecocks’ top rebounder (8.0) and third-highest scorer (10.8), rising to the top spot in the latter with 11.4 points per game in postseason action, including 69.4 percent field goal shooting.
- SEC Freshman of the Year A’ja Wilson is tied for the team lead with 27 double-digit scoring games, including four of 20+ points, to average 13.3 points per game on 53.2 percent field goal shooting. She is hitting 71.4 percent (10-of-14) from the field in NCAA Tournament action.
- SEC Player of the Year Tiffany Mitchell is the only active SEC player to rank among the league’s top 15 in scoring (14.2), assists (2.8) and steals (1.9). A 42.2 percent 3-point shooter, she is hitting 49.9 percent from the field overall.
- SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Aleighsa Welch has posted four double-doubles in the last 12 games. She is averaging 11.2 points and 6.6 rebounds in postseason action. Welch is the program’s record holder with 437 career offensive rebounds, ranking third in total rebounds.