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Dawn Staley and South Carolina are off to historic start: ‘Better than last year’

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Riley Nelson #2 of the Maryland Terrapins fouls MiLaysia Fulwiley #12 of the South Carolina Gamecocks in the fourth quarter during the game at Colonial Life Arena. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

After going shot-for-shot with No. 6 South Carolina for much of the first two quarters, No. 14 Maryland fell apart before halftime at Colonial Life Arena.

The Gamecocks went on a nine-point run in the final minute of the first half on their home court to secure a firm lead after 20 minutes of play. And their high rate of scoring continued for the rest of the game, adding to their historic start to the season.

South Carolina went on to beat Maryland by a score of 114-76 — the most points in a single game for the Gamecocks since 2020 and the most points against a ranked opponent in program history. Following on a 100-71 season-opening win against Notre Dame, South Carolina has scored at least 100 points in the first two games for the first time in program history.

“I actually think they’re better than last year,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said after the game.

The Gamecocks exploited the Terps’ zone defense and pulled them out of the paint. South Carolina pulled down a staggering 53 rebounds to Maryland’s 33, which allowed the Gamecocks to drop 28 second-chance points.

The Terps also struggled to maintain possession of the basketball — South Carolina forced 15 turnovers and was able to convert them to 23 points. 

The game ended with seven Gamecocks scoring in double figures. And if the loss wasn’t enough for Maryland, its highest scorer, Shyanne Sellers, exited the game late in the fourth quarter with an apparent injury to her foot. 

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley’s squad was said to be “renovating” its lineup this year after losing 2023 WNBA rookie of the year Aliyah Boston and other starters. Yet the Gamecocks are averaging 107 points per game.