Carolina’s championship resolve starts on defense

Carolina’s championship resolve starts on defense
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: South Carolina vs Oregon State during the Division I WomenÕs Basketball Tournament held at the Alamodome on March 23, 2021 in San Antonio, TX. (Source: Photo by Mark Sobhani/NCAA Photos/NCAA Photos)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Fun to watch Carolina prepare.

Head coach Dawn Staley enjoys her team’s extra attention to the details in Texas. She witnesses daily commitment from the bubble in San Antonio toward making a deep NCAA Tournament run.

“Being around them, there is an extra focus on details, on each other, on making sure they are prepared,” said Staley. “It’s a great thing to see. It’s not anything that’s outside what they’ve already done.”

Of the ten active players, only three have played in a Sweet 16 game. Destanni Henderson, Victaria Saxton, and Elysa Wesolek combined to play 25 minutes against Baylor in 2019.

Now starters, Henderson and Saxton will undoubtedly be counted on more so against Georgia Tech on Sunday.

The pressure of advancing does not phase this squad.

Staley notes they don’t like losing all that much. Over the past two seasons, Carolina’s fell only a handful of times. The four losses throughout this season opened the door for the coaching staff to help Carolina find that extra gear to be great defensively.

“It’s been a process over the entire season,” Staley added. “This team was motivated by what they’re able to do offensively. It camouflaged our lack of grittiness on the defensive end. When we started losing basketball games, we amped it up because we knew they would hear us a little bit better.”

Each knockdown along the way provided an opportunity to grow. Carolina focused on staying on track to achieve big-picture goals.

“Loss after loss, we got better on the defensive end,” Staley said. “They’re doing everything they need to do, especially defensively, to help us move forward and compete at a high level.”

And, the Gamecocks have been stout on that end, allowing a mere 54.4 points per game the last five times out.

Carolina looks to advance to its fifth Elite 8 in program history, its first since 2018.

Carolina plays Georgia Tech from Texas at 1 P.M. ET.

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