Senior forward Alexis Jennings scored 12 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds as the fourth-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks routed the 13th-seeded Belmont Bruins 74-52 on Friday afternoon in a first-round NCAA Tournament game at Charlotte, N.C.
South Carolina’s Te’a Cooper scored a game-high-tying 13 points. Tyasha Harris posted 12 points and a team-high six assists, and Doniyah Cliney added 10 points on a Gamecocks team that features balanced scoring.
Jennings, a second-team All-SEC selection, made 4 of 6 shots from the floor and 4 of 5 on free throws. She also blocked two shots and grabbed four of her rebounds on the offensive glass. All of her baskets were scored in heavy traffic.
The Gamecocks were coming off a 95-89 loss to Arkansas in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals. It was their second-worst defensive performance of the season in terms of total points allowed.
Against the Bruins, however, South Carolina’s defense was much better as the Gamecocks held Belmont to 34.6-percent shooting. The Gamecocks shot 55.4 percent against Belmont and were plus-16 on rebounds.
South Carolina (22-9) , making its eighth straight NCAA Tournament, is ranked 16th in the nation. The Gamecocks have reached the Elite Eight three times in the past four years, winning the national title in 2017.
The Bruins (26-7) finished the year with their third straight season boasting at least 26 wins. The Bruins have also won four consecutive Ohio Valley Conference championships. However, Belmont, 65-2 in league play the past 67 games, is 0-5 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
All season, Belmont was led by three standouts: Darby Maggard, a four-time OVC first-team selection and the league’s reigning Player of the Year; Jenny Roy, the first player in conference history to post 1,000 points, 800 rebounds and 400 assists; and Ellie Harmeyer, who made first-team All-OVC.
Against South Carolina, Maggard had 13 points, Roy had seven points and a game-high eight assists, and Harmeyer had nine points.
There were two lead changes and two tie scores in a first quarter that was ultimately controlled by the Gamecocks at 16-13.
South Carolina led throughout the second quarter, taking a 29-16 advantage to halftime. The Gamecocks held the Bruins to 29.2-percent shooting in the first half, including 2 of 10 on 3-pointers.
The Gamecocks led 60-36 after three quarters and coasted from there.
—Field Level Media