It was the first loss for the Gamecocks since Nov. 28, 2019, when they fell to Indiana 71-57 in the Virgin Islands. South Carolina didn’t lose again last season and ended it ranked No. 1; the Gamecocks would have been a No. 1 seed had there been an NCAA tournament.
The Gamecocks started this season at No. 1 and got off to a 3-0 start. But offensively, they struggled against NC State, shooting just 27% from the field (20-of-74). This was a game in which the Gamecocks definitely seemed to miss point guard Tyasha Harris, who finished her career last season and moved on to the WNBA.
“We just had no flow,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “In 21 years, I never felt what I felt during the game. Uncoachable, untamable, just not listening, just selfish play. It will open our eyes to see how we need to be and how we need to play every time we step on the floor. We need some leadership. We need somebody who is going to step up and say, ‘We need to get organized, we need to take better shots.’
“We can’t rely on just being talented. That talent has to play as a cohesive unit, and we did not do that tonight. And it’s disheartening. We’ve got to reel them back in and figure out how to bounce back.”
Zia Cooke and Laeticia Amihere had 11 points apiece to lead the Gamecocks. It was the first time South Carolina has been held under 50 points in a game since Feb. 10, 2013, when they lost 50-48 at home to Texas A&M.
“Normally we talk about trying to hold a team to 60 points,” NC State coach Wes Moore said. “Our defense has not been good. Tonight, we stepped up in a big game and did a great job for the most part keeping them in front of us. While also concentrating on trying to keep the ball out of the paint. I’m proud of it, because I’ve been the worst critic of our defense so far this year.”
Entering the game, NC State was 2-17 vs No. 1-ranked teams in The Associated Press poll era, which for the women began in the 1976-77 season. The last time the Wolfpack beat a No. 1 team, the coach was still Kay Yow, who died in 2009. That was in the 2007 ACC tournament semifinals, when the Wolfpack beat Duke 70-65, the Blue Devils’ first loss that year.
Moore is in his eighth season at NC State, which won the ACC tournament title last season and has started this season 3-0. Kayla Jones had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Wolfpack, who were without starter Jada Boyd (knee injury.) The Wolfpack didn’t shoot well, either, at 29.4%, but their defense made up for it.
“I’m just very excited right now,” Jones said. “Usually I take the back seat and just do the little things to get my teammates open. But I knew I had to be aggressive so we could come out and get this win.”