When dealing with a young, inexperienced basketball team the toughest obstacle to overcome is inconsistency - regardless of talent. Meet your 2010 South Carolina Gamecock basketball team.
In the previous two outings two different Gamecock teams showed up. In a 91-75 loss to Furman, the Gamecock offense played well but the defense failed to show up. In the 56-49 win over Jacksonville State, the Gamecock defense showed up but the offense was nowhere to be found.
On Saturday, it was a combination of both that doomed the Gamecocks in an 85-70 rout at the hands of Boston College. BC shot 52% from the field and drained 13 three pointers in the victory. The Eagles went on a 20-5 run at the end of the first to half to blow open what was a close game.
"It was 24-22 and they got on a run - got some easy three's and we gave up a couple in transition - and had a stretch offensively where it didn't go quite as good for us," head coach Darrin Horn said. "We've got to learn to play through those stretches."
The Eagles connected on 9-of-17 three pointers in the first half, the Gamecocks shot just 43% - 29% from three point range - and the Eagles out rebounded the Gamecocks 20-13 in the half.
"I thought we were locked in the last couple of days after that disappointing loss (to Rhode Island), all business-like on the trip," BC coach Steve Donahue said. "Against a very athletic yet young team, I just thought we played with great poise and toughness on both sides of the ball."
Bruce Ellington showed his uncanny quickness early, taking the ball coast-to-coast to open the scoring and then coming off a pick and taking it all the way to the rim. Biko Paris answered for the Eagles with back-to-back three pointers, but Brian Richardson answered with one of his own to give the Gamecocks a 9-8 lead.
Joe Trapani and Paris hit back-to-back three pointers to give the Eagles a 14-10 advantage, but an Ellington three pointer and Roman Galloway lay-up gave the Gamecocks the lead back. After a Reggie Jackson jumper gave the Eagles the lead, Galloway drained a three to give the Gamecocks an 18-16 lead. Trapani and Jackson came right back with back-to-back three pointers to give the Eagles a 22-18 lead 11 minutes into the game.
""At the beginning of the first half I thought we did a really a good job in some areas that we needed to do a good job in offensively in terms of flow and moving the basketball and getting the kind of shots as we've wanted as we've been all year," Horn said.
After a Bruce Ellington jumper with 6:50 left in the half trimmed the Eagle lead to 24-22, the Eagles went on the 20-5 run. Danny Rubin hit a three to start the run then Trapani and Corey Raji hit jumpers to give the Eagles a 31-22 lead. After Johndre Jefferson hit a jumper, Trapani outran everybody down the court for an easy lay-up for a 33-24 lead. Trapani then hit a three pointer to extend the lead to double-digits. Trapani `closed out the run with a free throw to give the Eagles a 44-27 lead as he accounted for eight of the 20 points in the run. The Gamecocks managed to score the last four points of the half to trim the 13 at the break.
The Eagles - with help from the Gamecocks - ensured there would be no comeback early in the second half. Rubin hit a wide open three pointer and Reggie Jackson had back-to-back easy layups, followed by a free throw to extend the lead to 52-33 as the Gamecocks continued to play individual offense. An old-fashioned three-point play by Raji extended the lead to 21 points at 57-36.
The Eagles made the Gamecock press look like a middle school press the entire second half, shooting at nearly a 70% clip most of the half as they continued to poor it on getting open shot after open and easy layup after easy layup as they led by as many as 29 points before the Gamecocks were able to trim the lead late.
As is the case with any young team, there are going to be growing pains. Saturday's loss was about as painful as it gets.
"Veterans understand that you just keep doing it and you just keep doing it regardless of how it's going for you," Horn said. "They took advantage of mistakes that we made - they don't hurt themselves. The biggest thing that a team like that is that everybody is settled into a place where they know what they can do and they know their role. I think that's something that will be an ongoing process for us. We have so many guys that haven't separated themselves and we're still learning a little bit of what they can do."
Trapani led all scorers with 23 points and nine rebounds. Paris had 18 and Raji had a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Eagles. Ellington led the Gamecocks with 21 points, Galloway added 15, Cooke had 13 coming off the bench, and Lakeem Jackson added 12.
"Trapani was unbelievable," Horn said. "I think that kid's a pro for sure."
The Gamecocks - who fell to 8-4 and have lost three of four - will closs out it's non-conference part of the schedule on Tuesday, hosting South Carolina State. Tip is set for 7:00 P.M.
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