COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina defeated Kentucky Wesleyan 68-67 in exhibition play on Tuesday at Colonial Life Arena. Junior guard Brenton Williams scored the go-ahead basket with just under three seconds on the clock to give the Gamecocks the win.
Williams led the Gamecocks in scoring, with 22 points., while senior forward Lakeem Jackson registered a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards.
Freshman forward Michael Carrera added 12 points and seven rebounds, going to the line 13 times, converting 10. As a team, South Carolina shot 38 free throws, making 27 of them.
Kentucky Wesleyan had three players in double digits on the night. Junior center Dominique Dawson scored 13 and brought down nine rebounds for the Panthers. Senior guard Kreig Oxley and freshman guard Patrick Neel each scored 11. Kentucky Wesleyan out-rebounded South Carolina 35-31.
Shots did not fall early for the Gamecocks, and the team found themselves in an early eleven-point hole midway through the first half. The Gamecocks tried to close the gap, but did not get closer than seven, until the offense began to click with 6:20 left in the first half.
South Carolina found its rhythm and created transition opportunities that helped to end the half on a 20-4 run. During the run, Williams hit a 3 from the corner to give the Gamecocks their first lead since an early 3-1 score. Junior guard Eric Smith paced South Carolina during the spurt, scoring five points in the final three minutes of the half.
In the final 5:48 before the break, Kentucky Wesleyan only scored one basket, a Dawson dunk, and the teams went into the half with the home squad leading 37-31.
The Panthers came out of the locker room firing and started the second half on a 9-0 run, with Dawson and junior forward Donovan Johnson scoring every point. The run gave Kentucky Wesleyan a 40-37 advantage. The teams would trade the lead 10 times in the second half before the game was decided.
Kentucky Wesleyan created a fast break opportunity after a missed Gamecock shot at the one-minute mark. The result was a Dawson dunk in transition to put the Panthers up 65-64 with 53 seconds remaining.
South Carolina and Kentucky Wesleyan each hit a pair of free throws on their next possessions to maintain a one-point Panther advantage at 66-67 with seven seconds on the clock.
After a timeout, Jackson inbounded the ball to Williams who drove the length of the court and laid the game-winner in with 2.6 seconds remaining. Oxley put up a desperation heave that did not reach the goal, giving the Gamecocks a 68-67 victory.
The Gamecocks will begin the regular season at Colonial Life Arena on Sun., Nov. 11, at 3 p.m. against Milwaukee. The matchup is a part of the Hoops for Hope Classic and FSN is slated to broadcast the game.