The South Carolina Gamecocks enter the 2019 Women's Paradise Jam with a 6-0 record looking to prove their commanding start to the season was no fluke.
With impressive wins over then #4/5 Maryland, an 84-48 throttling of Clemson, and two games with a margin of victory of at least 70, South Carolina has cemented their place in the top-5 of the polls.
South Carolina has outscored its opponents 529-276 while holding their opponents to a 23.9% shooting percentage from the floor and 19.6% from behind the arc. The defensive dominance also includes the Gamecocks forcing 18.7 turnovers, blocking 11.5 shots and outrebounding their opponents by an average margin of ten rebounds per game (50.3-39.7).
The team is also strong offensively, they average 88.2 points and 6.5 threes per game, making 48.4% of their shots from the floor and 40.6% of their shots from behind the arc.
Freshman Aliyah Boston leads the team in points (13.7), rebounds (7.5) and blocks (4.0) per game. Boston is also shooting 71.7% from the floor.
Senior Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, freshman Zia Cooke, senior Tyasha Harris, and sophomore Destanni Henderson are all also averaging more than nine points per game. Henderson also leads the team with 2.0 steals and 1.8 made threes in 24.7 minutes per game coming off the bench.
The team could improve in its free-throw shooting, as they make just 68.8% of their shots. Also, the team could take better care of the ball, as they average 14.3 turnovers per game.
The Gamecocks will be facing Indiana, Washington State and Baylor in the Paradise Jam on Nov. 28, 29 and 30.
Indiana is coming into the game with a record of 4-0, though with just one win over a Power 5 school, a 73-49 win over Florida. The Hoosiers averaged 87.5 points, 44 rebounds and 6.0 made threes per game.
One matchup to watch would be Boston and Indiana’s freshman Mackenzie Holmes. Holmes comes off the bench and averages 14.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in just 17.8 minutes per game.
Boston will also likely be matched up against sophomore Aleksa Gulbe who averages 10 points and 6.0 rebounds in 22.8 rebounds per game. She is two inches taller than both Holmes and Gulbe who will try to stop the dynamic freshman.
South Carolina should be able to capitalize on the fact that they are a much stronger team than Indiana has faced this season.
💪 Defense ➡️ Easy Offense pic.twitter.com/ZxKc4Z3vgp— GamecockWBB (@GamecockWBB) November 24, 2019
On Nov. 29 the Gamecocks will take on Washington State who enters the Paradise Jam 4-0. The Cougars take on Baylor in their first game.
Washington State has beaten Pepperdine, Brigham Young, Boise State and CSUN with an average scoring margin of 19.0 points per game. The Cougars average 75.8 points, 42.5 rebounds and 13.8 turnovers per game.
Two of Washington States’ top three scorers are at least six feet tall. However, Borislava Hristova, Chanelle Molina and Jovana Subasic are the only ones averaging at least 10 points per game.
If South Carolina can control keep the ball out of their hands they will be well on their way to a second win in the Virgin Islands.
The Gamecocks’ toughest challenge of the tournament and the season so far will be taking on Baylor on Nov. 30. The Lady Bears come into the Paradise Jame with a record of 5-0 with wins over New Hampshire, Grambling State, Houston Baptist, #22/23 South Florida and Lamar.
The team averages 95.4 points, 47.6 rebounds and 15.4 turnovers per game and an average scoring margin of 57.2.
Five Baylor players average at least nine points per game, including NaLyssa Smith, Erin DeGrate and Queen Egbo who are all at least 6-foot-2.
If South Carolina, primarily Boston and Herbert Harrigan, can control Baylor’s bigs then they will be in control of the game.
South Florida was the only team to hold Baylor to less than 90 points, holding them to just 58. South Carolina performed similarly against their toughest opponent to date, Maryland, defeating them 63-54.
South Carolina has one distinct advantage over Baylor: Three-point shooting. Despite averaging, 95.4 points per game Baylor makes just 2.8 threes per game.
If the Gamecocks can force Baylor outside the arc the team should make the Lady Bears uncomfortable. If the team can capitalize on this they may find themselves with another top-5 win before December starts.
Despite the biggest challenge for South Carolina in the Paradise Jam lying in the final day of the tournament, the Gamecocks are positioned to make a run that will cement their spot as one of the top teams in the country.