Fredrick sparks rally against Cougars

The Gamecocks gave fans an early Christmas present with a stirring come from behind 85-82 victory over College of Charleston on Saturday afternoon. The Cougars led by as many as 15 before Zam Fredrick hit four consecutive three pointers to get Carolina back in the game.


In a game where neither side could figure out how to stop the other and the teams traded runs throughout the second half, it was fitting that the game came down to a last second shot. With the game tied at 82, Devan Downey drove left across the lane and pump-faked on the left elbow. The pump-fake got defender Jermaine Johnson in the air, and with Dustin Scott charging, Downey banked in the jumper as Johnson fouled him. Downey hit the free throw to give Carolina the final three point margin.

"We knew then we would get the last shot," said Dave Odom. "The thing we said was, ‘It's not Devan's shot to take necessarily, but it's Devan's possession to decide who takes the shot. At the very least, we've got to get to the free throw line.'"

"I just had confidence that I could make a play," Downey, who scored 18 points with 7 assists, said after the game. "I decided to be aggressive and whatever happens, happens. I just got him up in the air and made the shot."

College of Charleston opened the game in a zone, but Carolina was able to score against it. It was when the Cougars switched to a man-to-man defense midway through the first half that the Gamecocks suddenly struggled on offense. Trailing 29-26 with 5:27 left in the half, College of Charleston went on a 14-0 run that helped them to a 43-33 halftime lead.

"The real irony is, if you look at where the leads increased [against Baylor and College of Charleston], it was about the same place at the end of the first half," said Odom. "I don't know why that period of time gives us problems, but it certainly did."

The Cougars continued the hot shooting early in the second half, and twice stretched the lead to 15. The first time College of Charleston went up by 15, Carolina used a 10-2 run to get the lead back down to single digits. Bobby Cremins, who was honored at halftime as one of the Gamecocks' greatest basketball players, called a timeout to stop the run, and the Cougars used a quick 6-0 run to go back up by 15. College of Charleston led by 10 points with just under 8 minutes to play, when the Gamecocks finally turned things in their favor. For the rest of the game, Carolina outscored College of Charleston 24-11. The key stretch was a 16-3 Carolina run in which Zam Fredrick went 4-4 from behind the arc.

"Zam Fredrick had had a horrible day shooting the basketball at that point," Odom said. "He is always one made shot away from running four or five off in a row."

"I've made 7 or 8 in a row before," Fredrick said of his long range outburst, "but it's the hottest I've been this season. It felt good, in a crucial part of the game, to make shots and give our team a lift."

Fredrick finished with a game high 21 points, and Brandis Raley-Ross, who went 4-6 from behind the arc, chipped in 16 points. Raley-Ross is now shooting 68% on three-point attempts this season, best in the nation. In the second half, the Gamecocks went 8-8 from three point land, after going just 1-8 in the first half. The other halftime swing for Carolina was on the glass. The Cougars had a 24-16 rebounding edge, but the Gamecocks won the rebounding battle 21-12 in the second half.


Notes:

- Chad Gray played 12 minutes and scored his first basket since the second game of the year against The Citadel.

- Evka Baniulis saw his first playing time since the game against Clemson.

- The Gamecocks, now 6-5 on the season, will have a brief break for Christmas. The players will return on the 26th to start preparations for the game against UC-Irvine on the 28th.


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