Jermaine Couisnard used the conventional three-point play twice in the final 2:10 and the South Carolina Gamecocks used a key defensive stand in the final minute to hold off visiting Gardner-Webb 74-69 in Columbia in a campus game of the Cancun Challenge on Friday evening.
Couisnard missed a 3-pointer off the right baseline with 18 seconds remaining, but Maik Kotsar tipped it out to Jair Bolden who was fouled and made 1 of 2 free throws to give South Carolina a 72-69 lead.
Gardner-Webb forward Jose Perez missed a 3-point shot which would have tied the game on the next possession as the Gamecocks (4-1) played excellent position defense in not allowing the Bulldogs (0-5) to have a look at the basket.
Couisnard and A.J. Lawson had 16 points each to lead five Gamecocks in double figures. Kotsar scored 11 points while Bolden and Alanzo Frink scored 10 points each.
Kotsar scored eight of his 11 points in the first 6:13 of the second half to jump start the Gamecocks’ offense as they made nine of their first 14 field goals to open up a 55-47 lead with 8:18 to play.
South Carolina shot 43.5 percent from the field in the second half which, was a welcomed sight for coach Frank Martin as his team had struggled from the field in its past two games.
Gardner-Webb’s Eric Jamison, Jr. led all scorers with 19 points. Jaheam Cornwall added 14 for the Bulldogs while Perez netted 12.
Both teams head to Cancun, Mexico, for the rest of the Challenge as South Carolina battles Wichita State on Tuesday evening and Gardner-Webb hosts UT Martin earlier that day.
—Field Level Media