Dawn Staley came to South Carolina with big dreams. She accomplished one of those dreams tonight.
An appearance in the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.
Staley advances to the Sweet 16 as South Carolina beat Purdue 72-61 on their home court in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. This is Dawn Staley's first appearance in the Sweet 16 as a head coach, which is something she didn't accomplish in six tries at Temple before heading to USC.
The goal for any coach is to keep winning until you are considered "champions" and the Gamecocks are staying alive in the tournament with hopes of making a miracle run to the Final Four.
Tonight's game was one of the same for South Carolina as they were led by tough defense and tremendous hustle play against Purdue. The seniors stepped up big for South Carolina especially Markeisha Grant. Grant scored a game-high 21 points and was deadly in the second half for South Carolina. Senior Lakeisha Sutton played tremendous early for the Gamecocks scoring 10 points and seemed to set the tone of what would turn out to be a physical contest between these two teams.
USC's strong defense forced 20 Purdue turnovers and South Carolina was able to answer every time Purdue seemed to get on a roll in the second half. Every lead that was decreased to single digits was back up to double digits with smart basketball from the Gamecocks.
Ieasia Walker scored 17 points and Ashley Bruner added 10 points as well.
South Carolina's next opponent is number one seed Stanford, who come into the NCAA Tournament as the number two ranked team in the AP Poll. The game will take place on March 24th in Fresno, California. Time and TV has yet to be announced.