The Gamecocks rebuffed Gardner-Webb’s upset bid, 74-69, behind Jermaine Couisnard’s 3-point play and a late defensive stand at the Colonial Life Arena, Friday night. Frank Martin’s 250th career victory featured 11 ties and seven lead changes.
South Carolina (4-1) trailed after Eric Jamison, Jr.’s layup put the Bulldogs up 69-68 with 1:21 remaining. Couisnard answered on the other end as his basket and foul shot put the Gamecocks back up by two. Alanzo Frink’s rebound finished off a defensive stand on one end and Maik Kotsar’s offensive rebound on the other end then effectively slammed the door.
Couisnard and A.J. Lawson tied for the team lead with 16 points, apiece. Couisnard scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half and also led the Gamecocks with six assists. The Gamecocks trailed much of the first half but fought back to gain a 32-29 lead at the break. The roles reversed in the second half as South Carolina’s depth took over. The Gamecocks finished with a 32-9 advantage in bench scoring.
Coach Martin wasn’t surprised the game wasn’t decided until the final minute, “NCAA tournament profile with Gardner-Webb. You’re talking about guys that went into ACC schools and won last year.”
Gardner-Webb hit just 13 of its 35 two-point attempts (37%), but was remarkably accurate elsewhere, knocking down 8 of its 19 3-point attempts (42%) and 19 of its 22 foul shots (86%). South Carolina was likewise efficient from the foul line, making 15 of 17 (88%), but found little success from long range, hitting on just 5 of 19 3-point attempts (26%).
While the Bulldogs relied on their shooting, the Gamecocks controlled the lane, outscoring Gardner-Webb 32-22 in the paint and blocking nine shots. Justin Minaya led the charge defensively with four blocks and a steal.
South Carolina is next in action against Wichita State in Cancun, Mexico. The Shockers are led by former Winthrop head coach and Greenwood native Greg Marshall. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m., Tuesday.
Frank Martin postgame press conference