Lady Gamecocks fall to Stanford

Walking through the basketball practice facility Friday afternoon, Dawn Staley smiled when a reporter asked if she was ready for an upset. Sticking her nose in the air, she laughed and said, "I smell it!" For 20 minutes, the fans at the Colonial Life Arena could smell an upset, too. In the second half, #3 Stanford's superior size and skill took over, and the Cardinal cruised to a 78-47 win.

The game was tight early, though Carolina's only lead came at 2-1. The Cardinal led most of the half by six to nine points, but the Gamecocks never let Stanford get into a rhythm. Every time the Cardinal seemed poised to pull away, Carolina would make a basket to get back in the game, and the Gamecocks trailed by just nine, 37-28, at the half.

"In the first half, I thought we came out and we were in the game," Staley said. "We were doing the things that we worked on for the past week, and I thought we progressed, and thought we were pretty good."

The second half was another story. Stanford opened with a 12-4 run to blow open the game, and then never let up. The lead ballooned to as much as 33 when Stanford called off the dogs. Carolina's offense was nonexistent in the second half, as the Gamecocks scored just 19 points on five field goals. For the game, Carolina shot just 28.3% compared to Stanford's 50%.

"It was frustrating," said guard Brionna Dickerson. "Our shots weren't falling and we weren't getting rebounds, but we played hard and we gave a great effort."

Stanford was led by 6'4" twin towers Kayla Pederson, the reigning Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, and Jayne Appel, an All-Pac-10 center, who scored 15 points each. The Cardinal dominated in the lane behind Pederson and Appel, who had 16 and 14 rebounds, respectively. All told, Stanford had a whopping 53 rebounds to Carolina's 21.

"I was really proud of our team and how we got on the glass and rebounded," said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. "We were really aggressive."

In addition to Pederson and Appel, Stanford has four other players 6'2" or taller, and start just one player under six feet. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks have just one player over 6'2", Demetress Adams, who is 6'4". Asked if she wanted to recruit more tall players like the ones Stanford has, Staley responded that size is not everything.

"I'll take four midgets that can play," she said, ever mindful of the need for at least one post player. "It really doesn't matter. Size has to be able to play."

Staley and the Gamecocks have to get over this game quickly. They take on Charlotte Sunday afternoon, and then have a week to get ready for another elite opponent when Connecticut comes to Columbia on December 28.

"You have to learn from losses," said Staley. "You have to take good and bad things from it. There are certainly a lot of good things we will take from it, but there are things that we'll learn."

The Gamecocks were led by Lakeisha Sutton's 13 and Dickerson's 11. Adams was neutralized by the Cardinal bigs, and held to just 9 points and 3 rebounds.

The biggest concern for South Carolina has nothing to do with the outcome of the game. Midway through the second half, talented freshman Miranda Tate went down with what appeared to be a serious injury. After the game, she was diagnosed with a left knee sprain, and will continue to be evaluated.

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