South Carolina was stunned at Missouri on Sunday, Feb. 19, and it cost the Gamecocks first place in the SEC. Now, South Carolina is looking up at Mississippi State in the standings, but there is no time to dwell on that defeat with a tough game at Texas A&M looming.
The Gamecocks travel to College Station, Texas, on Thursday, Feb. 23, to take on a very good Aggies (19-8, 9-5 SEC) team.
The Gamecocks (22-4, 12-2 SEC) were defeated by Missouri on a last-second shot, and while it was a surprising defeat, head coach Dawn Staley said she expects her team to bounce back like they have all season long.
South Carolina has yet to lose back-to-back games this season.
"We're fine," Staley said. "Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad, and sometimes the bad is losing one here or there. We just have to continue on our path of getting better and playing the perfect game. Despite our loss, I think we're playing well. Missouri played a great game, and they got things to fall their way."
The regular season is quickly winding down for South Carolina. After the game at the Aggies, the Gamecocks come home for one final game against Kentucky on Senior Day. There is still a lot of accomplishments left on the table, and it's up to South Carolina to go and grab all of them.
"We just have to finish strong," Staley said.
Texas A&M only has six players that consistently play, but they are six very talented players. Danni Williams leads the team with 17.7 points per game while Khaalia Hillsman isn't far behind with 16.8. Anriel Howard averages a double-double with 10 points and 10.6 rebounds per game and Curtyce Knox is the fourth player that averages in double figures.
The Aggies are very sound on the defensive side of the floor and are led by an excellent head coach in Gary Blair.
"We have to play a little bit quicker," Staley said. "We need to get up and down the floor a little bit and score in transition. We have to rebound the basketball. That's a really scrappy basketball team."
Staley said the team is looking forward to the challenge of facing Texas A&M and closing out the regular season on a positive note. As mentioned before, the Gamecocks have done a great job of rebounding from losses so far, and South Carolina hopes that trend continues on Thursday night.
"Usually a loss jolts you back into doing the little things," Staley said. "I think sometimes we lose sight of doing the little things and knowing the importance of doing the little things."
**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Jenny Dilworth**