(Columbia, S.C. ) South Carolina (3-0) defeated Rider (2-2) 88-76 at Colonial Life Arena on Monday night as a part of the Hoops for Hope Classic. Junior guard Brenton Williams led the way for the Gamecocks with the best stat line of his career. In his 38 minutes of play, Williams scored 22 points, hit 5-8 from behind the arc, pulled down four rebounds and dished out four assists. All numbers were career highs.
Every Gamecock who entered the game scored and four reached double figures on the night. In addition to Williams, freshman forward Mindaugas Kacinas scored a career-high 18 and senior forward Lakeem Jackson dropped 14. Senior guard LaShay Page added 12 points despite missing most of the first half with foul trouble. South Carolina also handed out 22 assists on 32 made baskets. Seven of eight South Carolina players brought down at least two rebounds, led by Jackson with seven and Page with six. Freshman forward Michael Carrera did not play for the second game in a row due to a concussion.
Junior guard Nurideen Lindsey led Rider with 26 points. Senior guard Jonathon Thompson and junior guard Anthony Myles scored 14 and 13 points, respectively. Junior forward Daniel Stewart registered a game-high eight rebounds for the Broncs.
After an early 4-4 score, Page hit the first 3-pointer of the night and Williams added another to key a 12-2 run, breaking open a 10-point lead at 16-6. Myles stopped the run for Rider with a 3-pointer of his own.
The Gamecocks stretched their lead out to a 14 midway through the first half, but the Broncs didn't let the home team pullaway. Rider was able to get within four on a Tommy Pereria 3-point basket with 2:34 remaining in the half. South Carolina closed the half on a Kacinas basket, a pair of R.J. Slawson free throws and another 3-pointer by Williams to take a 44-37 lead into the locker room.
Out of the break, the Broncs continued to chip away and just three minutes into the half, closed to within five points. Shots from behind the arc preserved the Gamecock's advantage, with Page and Williams sinking three a piece in the second half. One of Williams' career-high five 3-pointers came from the corner with the shot clock winding down to put the Gamecocks up by 15 with 5:38 remaining. Kacinas got in on the action as well, hitting his first career shot from behind the line to extend the lead to 84-66. Jackson added a layup to widen the gap to 20, the highest of the night.
Rider made one last run, ending the game on a 12-2 burst. South Carolina was able to withstand the surge and hang on for the 88-76 victory.
The Gamecocks are back in action at 7 p.m. in Colonial Life Arena on Wed., Nov. 21, against Elon.