Carolina readies itself for the eye of the Hurricanes

South Carolina guard Destanni Henderson directs teammates during the first half of a...
South Carolina guard Destanni Henderson directs teammates during the first half of a first-round game against Howard in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Friday, March 18, 2022 in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)(Sean Rayford | AP)
Published: Mar. 19, 2022 at 3:38 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Carolina stares into the eye of the Hurricanes following a record-setting first number in the Big Dance.

The top overall seed smothered Howard on Friday, 79-21. The win broke two NCAA Tournament records for the fewest points allowed in a half and game.

Defense is not the concern entering Sunday. How the Gamecocks connect on their shots is.

“We got to trust it’ll correct itself,” said Coach Dawn Staley. “I thought we took good shots; they just didn’t go in.”

Carolina shot 32 percent from the field in the first three quarters in the win over the Bison. Coach Staley’s not one to push a panic button. Nor should she, her Gamecocks know the standard and are ready to lock in against Miami in the second round.

“I think really putting the emphasis on consistency from start to finish,” said Brea Beal, junior guard.

“I just feel like we just have to continue doing what we’re doing, playing together,” added Victaria Saxton, senior forward.

The Hurricanes will storm in on Sunday, determined to have their one shining moment. In the ACC tourney, Miami recently defeated (4)Louisville and (20)Notre Dame. So, Carolina knows they will not back down with the number one next to its name.

“So very aware of their success,” mentioned Staley. “Very aware of what is causing their success, and it will be a tale of imposing our wills on each other.”

”I think we’re a great defensive team,” added Saxton. “We just have to go out there and be disciplined to what we do.”

“I see a very hot Miami team that is stroking the ball pretty good,” Staley said. “They’re sharing the ball. They’re linked up.”

The Gamecocks know how to link up defensively, ranking third nationally in scoring defense (50.7 ppg). And Carolina will lean on two of its unsung heroes to fluster Miami.

“Putting my all into every game, whoever I’m guarding, just not taking a day off,” added Beal.

“I too take pride in being able to do the small things for the team, anything to help,” said Saxton. “I just like that excites me, so...”

Carolina locks in for Sunday’s 3 pm start time at home for a spot in the Sweet 16.

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