COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Boston knew it probably couldn’t match South Carolina physically. The Gamecocks, coached by Frank Martin, are always in the opponent’s face.
But if they weren’t there to run through …
“Just getting into the paint, being poised, jump-stopping, pump-faking,” the Terriers’ Javante McCoy said after scoring 17 points in a 78-70 upset Tuesday. “I had a lot of good shooters on the 3-point line tonight.”
Boston (3-2) had six players score at least six points, drained nine 3-pointers and relentlessly pushed the ball past the Gamecocks’ defense. When the Gamecocks collapsed on Boston’s drivers, McCoy or Alex Vilarino could kick out to an open shooter. When South Carolina began guarding the perimeter, Walter Whyte and Max Mahoney were zipping along the back line for easy bunnies.
“They’re an old team and they just went at us,” Martin said. “Our ball-screen defense was abysmal today. Like, abysmal. It was really bad.”
Boston recorded 15 assists on 27 field goals and turned a 60-60 game with seven minutes to go into the school’s first win over a current SEC member. The Gamecocks, led by 22 points from star guard A.J. Lawson, couldn’t work the ball inside and began settling for 3-pointers, making a mere 4 of 22.
“Sometimes we’re just too trigger-happy, too ready to shoot it,” Lawson said. “I guess we’ve got to be more aggressive, get it down to the low post.”
South Carolina has 10 players who are either newcomers or sat out all or most of last season due to injury or other reasons. Martin likes his collective talent but realizes there will be growing pains.
“It’s the first time we’ve dealt with real adversity and we became a very quiet, in-our-feelings team. We’ve got to grow up,” Martin said. “I wanted to see who would take ownership on our team and unfortunately, nobody did.”
Boston’s Joe Jones has five juniors or seniors on his squad, including McCoy. They combined for 33 points.
“They’ve been a lot of fun so far this year,” Jones said. “I think there are some great things ahead for us because I think we have the right people in the locker room.”
Boston: The Terriers posted their first winning streak of the season. They beat New Hampshire Saturday before traveling to South Carolina.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks suffered a debilitating non-conference loss for the third straight season. Last season’s losses to Stony Brook and Wyoming played a large part in them not getting a postseason bid, despite winning 11 games in the SEC. They lost to Illinois State in 2017-18, another year without a postseason berth.
Lawson aced a free throw to complete a three-point play and the game was tied at 60 with seven minutes to go. The Terriers immediately went on an 11-2 run to clinch the game.
During the stretch, McCoy scored eight points and South Carolina missed three 3-pointers. The Gamecocks’ only points came from two Justin Minaya free throws.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Boston had 12 offensive rebounds and scored 18 points off them. Martin was worried about his team’s rebounding prowess before the season began due to only having three returning big men.
That was cut to two when forward Keyshawn Bryant had knee surgery. He could be out for the next 3-4 weeks.
Maik Kotsar and Alanzo Frink, the other two returnees, had 13 rebounds between them but Boston kept grabbing the crucial ones.
Boston: The Terriers head to West Virginia Friday before heading to Mexico to finish the Cancun Challenge. The Terriers will play two games there.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks host Gardner-Webb Friday before going to Mexico. There they will face Wichita State, led by coach Gregg Marshall, a native South Carolinian who attended South Carolina basketball camps as a youngster.