7:00 PM ET, December 13, 2005
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Shannel Harris was disappointed after South Carolina had squandered late leads against ranked opponents Texas and Purdue last month. She made sure it didn't happen again Tuesday night.Harris matched her season total with 13 points and the Gamecocks ended a 17-game losing streak against ranked teams with a 79-61 victory over Minnesota (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today; No. 14 AP).The Gamecocks (3-3) hadn't beaten a Top 25 team since defeating No. 13 Arkansas 83-59 on Feb. 16, 2003. In Harris' eyes, the streak should have ended last month at the Junkanoo Jam holiday tournament on Grand Bahama Island.First against Texas and then against Purdue, South Carolina took leads late in the game. But each time, the Gamecocks watched their opponents rally for the win."We felt like we should've beat those teams in the Bahamas," Harris said. "So we came into this game and we knew what we were capable of and we felt like we could beat this team as well."The Gamecocks showed that early. Minnesota took a 2-0 lead on the game's first basket, then watched South Carolina go on a 13-0 run that pretty much put the game away.Key in that stretch -- and evidence of the Gamecocks' aggressive, let-it-all-out style -- was Harris' block of Shannon Schonrock's 3-point try. Harris collected the ball and glided on in for an uncontested layup.South Carolina took advantage of a very cold shooting Minnesota team -- the Golden Gophers hit just two of their first 18 shots -- and were ahead 13-2 less than 6 minutes into the game.Minnesota never got closer, trailing by as many as 27 points in the second half on the way to ending a two-game winning streak.Jamie Broback, the Gopher's leading scorer at 15.2 points a game coming in, missed five of her first six shots and ended with four points, all in the first half. It was her lowest output this season.Minnesota coach Pam Borton said South Carolina came at Broback with two or three players each time she touched the ball, altering her shot attempts."I think we have to know that we're going to get everybody's best game," Borton said.Liz Podominick led Minnesota with a career-high 21 points, while Katie Alsdurf had 16, also her career best.Iva Sliskovic had consecutive baskets to put South Carolina ahead 23-5.Lea Fabbri had a driving basket and Harris made two free throws and the Gamecocks were up 35-13 with 2:59 remaining in the half.Minnesota had 11 more turnovers in the opening half and just eight field goals to trail 39-21.Fabbri's driving layup increased the margin to 50-27. A few minutes later, Dametress Adams had the first of two straight baskets that made it 58-31 -- South Carolina's largest lead -- with 10:10 to play.Minnesota had a season-high 23 turnovers."Maybe we weren't mentally prepared," Borton said.By the end, several in the crowd of 1,108 at the Colonial Coliseum began the familiar chant of "over-rated." When the final buzzer sounded, South Carolina players jumped on the court in celebration."It was time for them to do this," South Carolina coach Susan Walvius said. "I'm really proud of them."Fabbri finished with 12 points and Adams 11 for South Carolina, which hadn't played since a disastrous 73-66 home loss to Georgia Southern on Nov. 29.Practices since then, Harris said, were intense and competitive. The team had to find out they could depend on each other, she said."It was just a matter of doing it," she said. "I think we're going to be able to keep it up."
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