They almost let another one get away.
Just a week after blowing two first half eight point leads and a crucial turnover under Florida's basket that led to a crucial three-point play in the final minute of the game in a 65-63 loss to the Gators, South Carolina's women's basketball team nearly did the same Sunday against the Ole Miss Rebels in Oxford, Mississippi. Nearly.
The Gamecocks survived several late Rebel surges to pick up a huge road win, 63-58, in an overtime thriller. Ieasia Walker led the Gamecocks (10-8, 2-3) with a double-double, scoring 20 points and pulling down 11 rebounds, and Valerie Nainima added 11 - including two crucial three-pointers in overtime.
A 10-0 Gamecock run in the first half gave Carolina an 11-point lead mid-way through the first half, the Gamecocks - like last Sunday against the Gators - let the Rebels roar back late in the half cut the lead to one before Ieasia Walker drained a three-pointer in the final seconds to give the Gamecocks a 28-24 halftime lead.
The Rebels would take their first lead of the game, 33-32, on a Valencia McFarland free throw at the 13:29 mark as the teams went back and forth most of the half. A Carolina 9-3 run late in the half seemed to put the game away as the Gamecocks took a 47-39 lead with 5:42 left on a Courtney Newton three-pointer.
The Rebels quickly stormed back on a 13-4 run to take a 52-51 lead with 1:31 left. A La'Keisha Sutton free throw with 1:06 remaining tied the game and neither team was able to score again in regulation.
A Valerie Nainima three-pointer 13 seconds into the overtime period gave the Gamecocks a 55-52 lead, but the Rebels would come right back and take a 58-57 lead with two minutes remaining on a Pa'Sonna Hope jumper. Walker would tie the game on a free throw and Nainima put the dagger into the hearts of the Rebels with a three-pointer to give the Gamecocks a 61-58 lead with just 49 seconds left.
Nainima was fouled after Shae Nelson missed a three-pointer and hit one of two free throws and Markeshia Grant added the final point on a free throw with a second remaining.
Like the men's team, the Gamecocks will now have a big three-game homestand. Carolina hosts #5 Tennessee on Thursday night, Alabama next Sunday, and close out the homestand against Georgia on January 27th.
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