"We did what we were supposed to do today," Dayton coach Shauna Green said. "We couldn't hit shots. When we don't hit shots, it takes away some of our confidence, and you just can't get down 22-6 against this type of team and make a comeback."
Green pointed to South Carolina's 52-42 rebounding advantage and a 14-11 margin at the free-throw line as stats she could live with against a team like the Gamecocks. Dayton also had an advantage in another area of concern: turnovers. South Carolina turned the ball over 17 times. Dayton committed 13 turnovers.
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Those positive stats were not enough to ignite a comeback. The Flyers (2-1) were outscored in every quarter, trailed 41-21 at halftime and fell behind by as many as 29 points in the third quarter.
This was not the same South Carolina team that needed a strong finish in the fourth quarter to beat Dayton 65-55 last November in Columbia, S.C. The Gamecocks (3-0) routed Dayton three days after winning 63-54 at then No. 4 Maryland on Sunday.
"I think we have a lot more healthy bodies this time around and a lot more depth than we had last year," Staley said, "and we have a lot more competitive players. They're competing at a high level in practice, and they do that out here in the game. They don't play perfect, but it doesn't come from a place of not competing."
Freshman Zia Cooke, a graduate of Rogers High School in Toledo, led South Carolina with 27 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Another freshman, forward Aliyah Boston, the nation's third-ranked recruit, scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Brea Beal, South Carolina's third freshman starter, led the team with 10 rebounds.
The bright spot for Dayton on a night when its star, Jayla Scaife, made 2 of 18 shots and scored seven points, was the play of Jenna Giacone off the bench. She scored 17 of career-high 18 points in the second half, making 4 of 6 3-pointers.
"I just came in with the mindset to come off the bench and produce," said Giacone, who had 13 points in the first two games. "At the end of the game, no matter what the score was, I just had to bring some energy. I hit the first shot and just rolled from there."