COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - With only hours before South Carolina is set to take on North Carolina A&T State, Dawn Staley's ticket challenge has seen several members of Gamecock Nation answer the call to help members of the community attend games this weekend.
"We're used to having five-digit people in Colonial Life Arena," Staley said, "and, when I heard we had just maybe 7,000 tickets sold, I just thought -- for our team, for A'ja Wilson, for Lindsey Spann, for them being there last time playing in Colonial Life Arena, playing in Columbia, S.C. – I think they deserve to have a little more and I know the ticket prices are a lot more expensive than our normal (prices). So, I was just challenging people to step up. I personally bought those tickets for people to come see us play and I just wanted somebody to kind of feel what I was feeling and the incredible response to it was great.
On Thursday, Staley received support for her ticket challenge from the Queen City. NBA All-Star and Charlotte Hornet Dwight Howard chipped in to help fill Colonial Life Arena for the first round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.
Howard isn't the only big name to lend a helping hand to Staley's challenge. Country singer and famous USC alum Darius Rucker also answered the challenge buying 100 tickets.
The South Carolina Gamecocks women's basketball coach also got her colleague, Will Muschamp, to help the cause in a major way. The Gamecocks head football coach purchased 500 tickets to help fill the facility.
Staley said she has yet to reach out to Gamecocks' men's head basketball coach Frank Martin to purchase tickets since he's on the recruiting trail.
South Carolina will open tournament play against the Lady Aggies at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Colonial Life Arena.