WBB: Carolina pounds Anderson in exhibition

South Carolina women's basketball team was impressive in an 88-31 victory over Anderson in an exhibition contest Sunday afternoon. The five returning players were exceptional, but it was the five newcomers that were most impressive. All five showed why they could be contributors in what looks to be another solid season.

You usually don't learn a lot about your team in an exhibition contest. Exhibitions are usually used to shake off some rust from your veteran players and get freshmen their first taste of college basketball. When you only have 10 players on your roster and five of them are first-year players, the formula you use in your exhibition may be the same formula you use in March when you hope to be preparing for the NCAA Tournament.

South Carolina women's basketball team beat down Anderson 88-31 Sunday afternoon in the only exhibition of the 2012-13 seasons, using a blend of youth and experience throughout the course of the game. The strength in the game early on was to get the ball into the post. Aleighsa Welch scored 12 of her 14 points in the first half as Carolina scored 50 points in the paint.

"I think that's how we'll have to play early," head coach Dawn Staley said. "I think our strength right now is in the post. I think that's where we can be really effective and predictable. A lot of things can happen out there on the perimeter because we're so young. Ieasia is the only one who really knows what we want and can take some expected shots. The other one's we're training to make us more comfortable."

Fair or not, this Carolina basketball team will be compared throughout the season to the Sweet 16 team of a year ago. The speed and defensive ability was a trademark for last year's squad, and this team has plenty of it. Seniors Ieasia Walker and Sancheon White had four steals between them, but it was the freshmen that really impressed with their speed. Khadijah Sessions is as quick as advertised, despite wearing a knee brace, and Tiffany Davis, Tiffany Mitchell, and Asia Dozier can all get up and down the court.

"They looked good today," Staley said. "They're not always going to look as good as they did today, but we have to take these moments and enjoy them and continue to teach them what's going on. Overall, I was glad they got this under their belt."

One thing this team has that last year's team did not have is size in the post. At 6-0, Welch was dominant in the post, but the development of 6-3 Elem Ibiam and the arrival of 6-3 JUCO newcomer Wilka Montout will play a key role in the success of a team that often lost last season due to a lack of height. Ibiam had a game-high 12 rebounds and Montout and Welch each grabbed seven. Ibiam had five on the offensive side and Welch and Montout added four.

"Any time you can play a traditional lineup that you can match up with people that have (height) I think is a great thing," Staley said. "We did play Asia at the four and we may need her to create some mismatches for us, especially on the offensive end. The more versatile we are the better we will play, even playing different competition and what they bring."

Joining Welch with a game-high 14 points was Dozier, Sancheon White added 13, Sessions had 11 and Mitchell had 10. Sessions had an impressive stat line with six steals, five asssits, and just one turnover. Davis was the only Carolina player that was not able to score in the exhibition.

"I was very pleased with our effort," Staley said. "I thought we would come out and play energized. The monotonous of practice for the last few weeks is really wearing on us. I thought they would play a little more undisciplined at times, but I thought they stuck with the game plan. There were only a few times when they got outside of ourselves."

Carolina opens the 2012-13 season Friday night when they host Elon at the Colonial Life Arena at 7:00. The Phoneix return 10 players from a squad that went 16-14 a year ago under first-year head coach Charlotte Smith. Elon topped Belmont Abbey 83-42 in their Sunday exhibition contest.

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