No. 2 South Carolina beats Cal State Bakersfield 90-71
Nov. 29, 2015
HONOLULU (AP) — Bianca Cuevas struggled to adjust to the college game last season at South Carolina.
After six games this season, the New York native is hitting her stride.
The 5-foot-6 sophomore was a 2014 McDonald's All-American out of Nazareth Regional High School, but averaged just 5.6 points in 37 games as a freshman.
In her last two games, including the Gamecocks' 90-71 victory over Cal State Bakersfield on Saturday in the Rainbow Wahine Classic, Cuevas is averaging 19 points.
She had a season-high 20 points Saturday — one shy of her career high — to help No. 2 South Carolina improve to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the four-team tournament.
"I think just as frustrated as we all were with Bianca last year, for her to have these back-to-back performances like this is great," Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley said. "It's great for her confidence, it's great for her building trust with our coaching staff and I'm happy for her. I just don't want her to get too high with the highs or too low with the lows, just maintain and she can have that kind of effort."
Cuevas shot 8 of 12 from the field and assists six assists — three of them to All-American A'ja Wilson, who matched her career high with 26 points.
"Our bench production is wonderful," Wilson said. "Our bench production makes us who we are. They really help us kind of get that assist.
"They bring a lot of energy; Bianca brings a lot of energy, Shay Colley brings a lot of energy and that helps, so you never see a drop from the first five to the second five, so I think our bench production is something huge and it's something that we take pride in, so they helped us out a lot."
Wilson was 10 of 14 from the field and made 6 of 9 free throws. She also had eight rebounds, four assists and four blocks.
Tiffany Mitchell added 13 points for the Gamecocks. They shot 55 percent from the field.
Batabe Zempare led the Roadrunners (1-4) with 19 points and eight rebounds. Alyssa Shnnon added 11 points and five assists, and Erika Williams had 10 points and four assists.
Cal State Bakersfield was 8 of 18 on 3-pointers and 13 of 15 from the line.
South Carolina led 45-37 at the half.
The Roadrunners trailed 27-14 after the first quarter, but got twice got within four points in the third quarter on a runner by Alyssa Shannon at the 8:12 mark and again on a floater by Williams with 6:35 left in the period.
Shay Colley scored on three straight South Carolina possessions near the end of the third to stretch the lead back to 59-50.
Cal State Bakersfield cut it to 66-61 on Dajy Vine's basket off an assist from Shannon, but South Carolina scored on seven of its next nine possessions to make it 77-63.
The Gamecocks closed out the game on a 10-2 run.
The Roadrunners were whistled for 27 fouls to just 12 for South Carolina.
It was the first meeting between the schools.
Cal State Bakersfield: The Roadrunners shot 10 of 27 from the field (37 percent) in the first and fourth quarters, where they were outscored 43-28, but were 15 of 31 (48 percent) in the second and third quarters, where they outscored the Gamecocks 43-37.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks shot a woeful 55 percent (17 of 31) from the free-throw line for the game, but were 6 of 8 in the final quarter. They made their first six attempts.
WILSON THE DISTRIBUTOR
Wilson, a 6-foot-5 sophomore forward who became the first South Carolina player to earn All-American honors as a freshman last year, adjusted well to the double team she saw from the Roadrunners and finished with a career-high four assists.
"She played extremely well," Staley said. "I'm really proud of how she played, just played with a lot of poise, let the game come to her. I thought she was forceful in some areas, but her ability to play out of the double team and seeing teammates for easy baskets was a great thing for her to experience tonight."
Cal State Bakersfield will play No. 16 Arizona State on Sunday.
South Carolina will face tournament host Hawaii on Sunday.