South Carolina drops first of three contests against Japan National Team

Courtesy: South Carolina Athletics

Courtesy: South Carolina Athletics

TOKYO – The South Carolina women’s basketball 2017-18 roster took the court against outside competition for the first time Friday afternoon with the Gamecocks scrimmaging against the Japan National Team. The two teams played three 10-minute periods then closed the day’s activities with a score-stop-score drill.

During the three periods, Japan opened and closed the competition well to outscore the youthful Gamecocks 52-47 over the 30 minutes of action. Sophomore guard Tyasha Harris led the offense with 14 points, including four 3-pointers, while junior forward Alexis Jennings went for a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Japan took an early lead before the Gamecocks began driving to the basket and converting free throws to pull even at 15-15. The home team capitalized on a pair of Gamecock missed free throws on what could have the final possession of the opening period. Hitting both their resulting free throws, Japan took a 23-21 lead into the first break.

Miscues cost the Gamecocks early in the second period, but free throws kept the game tight. South Carolina’s rebounding improved in the stretch, and Jennings’ free throws helped pull the Gamecocks within one a 32-31 with 38.2 seconds until the next break. After a timeout, Harris hit her second 3 of the game to give her team a 34-32 advantage at the end of two periods.

Japan again opened the period well and took the lead, but Harris’ hot shooting kept the game close. A rough offensive stretch saw South Carolina trail by six, 47-41, with 2:03 to play. Again, it was Harris that stepped up, taking a kickout from A’ja Wilson for her fourth 3 of the night. Wilson’s free throw with 1:18 to play made it a two-point game at 45-47, but Japan answered quickly to stretch the lead to four seconds later. Jennings got a putback on the next possession, but again Japan had the answer – this time with a 3-pointer with 31.2 seconds left that ended up being the game’s final points.

In the final part of the competition, Wilson found her stride from the field, hitting 4-of-4 for eight points, while freshman Lele Grissett pulled down a team-high four rebounds.

The Gamecocks will practice on Saturday and Monday to face Japan in similar competitions on Sunday and Tuesday before heading back to Columbia on Wednesday.

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