by UofSC Athletic Communications
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Fourth-seeded South Carolina women's basketball ended its season with a loss to the No. 1 overall seed Baylor, 93-68, at Greensboro Coliseum on Saturday afternoon in the third round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The #15/18 Gamecocks (23-10, 13-3 SEC) reached the Sweet 16 for the sixth-straight season and will bring in the No. 1 recruiting class in 2019-20.
Te'a Cooper led Carolina with 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 5-of-6 from the free throw line, in 20 minutes. Mikiah Herbert Harrigan scored 16 points and was a perfect 5-of-5 from the charity stripe. Bianca Cuevas-Moore scored 13 points in her final game as a Gamecock, sinking two threes and hitting 5-of-6 from the free throw line to finish her career with exactly 1,000 points.
Baylor began by scoring 10 of the first 12 points of the game. Carolina's offense got going with assertiveness from Herbert Harrigan and LeLe Grissett, both coming off the bench. Herbert Harrigan sank a smooth jumper before Grissett hit an impressive fadeaway as the shot clock expired to make it 16-7 with 3:13 left in the quarter. Grissett connected on another bucket and had fans on their feet with a big swat of Kalani Brown before the quarter ended with Baylor leading 24-11.
The Lady Bears extended their lead in the second quarter, but Carolina showed flashes in the form ofVictaria Saxton. The freshman came in and denied a Baylor shot and later connected on a layup to end a Baylor run. She also collected a loose ball and found a streaking Bianca Jackson for an easy transition bucket before halftime came with Baylor on top 49-23.
In the third quarter, Carolina's offense came to life. The Gamecocks used a 7-1 run in the early portions of the period to cut into the Baylor lead. After the media timeout, South Carolina used another six-point burst to cut the lead to 62-44 with 4:04 to go, highlighted by a steal from Tyasha Harris that led to a Cooper layup in transition.
The lead continued to dwindle for Baylor as the Gamecocks pressed ahead. Cuevas-Moore hit a long-distance 3-pointer and a free throw on the next possession to cut the lead to 16. Baylor bounced back with an 11-2 run, and despite outscoring the Lady Bears 29-23 in the third, South Carolina still faced a deficit they could not overcome.
KEY STAT Carolina's bench did a lot of damage during the game, scoring over half the Gamecocks' total points as 37 came from the reserves.
Cooper's 17 points is her NCAA Tournament career hig, eclipsing her 16-point performance back in 2016 against Ohio State while with Tennessee.Cuevas-Moore reached 1,000 career points with nine in the fourth quarter. She is the second Gamecock to reach the milestone during the 2018-19 season as Nelly Perry hit the mark earlier this season. Harris handed out six assists during the season finale, moving her into sole possession of fourth all-time in career assists at South Carolina.