Top-ranked and #1 seeded USC had some sloppy moments in their NCAA Tournament opener against Norfolk State Friday afternoon at the Colonial Life Arena, but the defending national champs were way too talented and experienced for the Spartans and they eventually pulled away for a 72-40 victory. The Gamecocks move on to round two on Sunday and will face South Florida, a 67-65 overtime winner over Marquette in game one Friday.
The Gamecocks got off to a good start shooting 60% in the opening quarter and led 20-7 after the first quarter. They cooled off considerably after that and finished the game at 39%, but their defense proved to be too much for the Spartans who made just six of their last 32 shots in the first half.
USC forced 17 turnovers they converted into 14 points and they blocked 11 shots. The Gamecocks won the boards 49-33 but the Spartans did grab 14 offensive rebounds.
USC led 34-18 at the half and continued to the build the lead in the second half as Dawn Staley emptied her bench. Twelve different Gamecocks scored led by Zia Cooke with and Laeticia Amihere with 11 points each. The Gamecocks made just five more field goals than the Spartans, but they outscored them 25-4 from the foul line.
The Gamecocks extended their winning streak to 39 games overall and 41 straight at home.