womens bb

Zia Cooke led the Gamecocks with 15 points in the win over Missouri (Tracy Glantz photo)

The women’s basketball team reached No. 1 in the country last week in both polls but will drop some next week after their 63-59 overtime loss to Connecticut Monday night in Storrs. The Gamecocks had four shots a victory in the final seconds of regulation, and then couldn’t stop Huskies freshman guard Paige Bueckers as she scored all nine of her team’s overtime points.

Dawn Staley’s team did bounce back with a solid 77-62 win at home over Missouri Thursday night to extend their SEC regular season winning streak to 27. Zia Cooke led the Gamecocks with 15 points. They’ll be at home Sunday afternoon to face LSU.

The men play Ole Miss at the Colonial Life Arena Saturday night hoping to avoid being swept during their three game homestand. Hopes were high going into last Saturday’s game with Mississippi State because the Gamecocks had played so well in the final 10 minutes of a win at Florida their previous game. But a second half stretch of 13 missed shots allowed the Bulldogs to expand a one-point lead and the Gamecocks could not catch up in a 75-59 loss.

The Gamecocks had a quick turnaround with a Tuesday night home game against SEC leader Alabama.

Despite another poor shooting night from three point range (6-25), the Gamecocks were in this one to the end. With four seconds left, the Gamecocks had the ball out of bounds under their own basket needing a three to tie. Frank Martin dialed up a play that he hoped would lead to a three point attempt, but Jermaine Couisnard instead inbounded underneath to Justin Minaya. His layup did the Gamecocks no good as Alabama hit a pair of free throws to clinch an 81-78 victory. The loss dropped the Gamecocks to 5-8 overall and 3-6 in the SEC.

Football coach Shane Beamer officially introduced his new running backs coach Montario Hardesty Tuesday, and that’s the last of the staff intros he will conduct barring an unexpected departure. Hardesty comes to USC after two seasons coaching receivers at Charlotte. He was a standout running back at Tennessee and had an NFL career with Cleveland that was cut short by a knee injury.

Beamer and his staff are now focused on recruiting, weight-room work and conditioning and preparing for the start of spring practice March 20. Beamer has one spot left in his 2021 class but he said there is no prospect they are recruiting right now that is close to filling that spot.

The softball team, ranked as high as 19 nationally, was set to open its season Friday against North Carolina, weather permitting. UNC-Greensboro is the third team in town for the three-team weekend opener.

The baseball team was picked to finish in the SEC East by the league coaches. Catcher/first baseman Wes Clarke was named to the pre-season All-SEC Second Team. The Gamecocks are set to open their season next Friday at home with a three game series against Dayton. The Gamecocks also have scheduled a three game series at Texas for March 12-4.

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