South Carolina Warriors pull away in second half to beat Gainesville Heat

From staff reportsDecember 16, 2012 

— Playing against a run-and-gun team, the Warriors found themselves in a battle.

But when John Kefalas’ players responded to his call to slow the game down, South Carolina pulled away for another victory Sunday evening, beating the Gainesville Heat 124-100 at the Carolina Forest Recreation Center.

Trailing 63-61 at the half, Kefalas knew he had to get his team to take a new strategy.

“We went to the spread. We spread the court to get the middle open,” he said. “… That’s where Marquise [Gainous] and Shaq [Johnson] and Lashun [Watson] got a lot of 3s. In the spread we were able to penetrate. [The point guard] either took it to the basket or if guys dropped off the big guys got open.”

The Warriors also stepped up their defense in the second half after hearing a warning from their coach.

“I just told them, ‘our defense stunk and the bottom line is: We keep playing like this and we’ll lose,’ ” Kefalas said.

South Carolina also stepped it up on the glass, where the Warriors were struggling against a team whose tallest player was 6-foot-4.

“In the first half we didn’t block out. They sent all five guys to the boards and we let them come underneath us and get boards,” Kefalas said. “In the second half we played better.”

Johnson was the Warriors’ high scorer for the second straight night with 29 off the bench, while Watson and Gainous had 25 each. Mike Vogler had 10 points and 10 assists while Georgetown native Brendon Knox provided 10 points and 10 rebounds in a reserve role.

South Carolina (10-1) enters a winter break in which they aren’t scheduled to return to game action until Jan. 5. Kefalas said the Warriors will likely return to practice before the start of the year, and he believes Sunday’s game proved the team still has work to do.

“A lot of times what happens is sometimes you play to the other peoples’ level. You’ve got to play your game,” he said.

•  Note: The Warriors have lowered ticket prices. The price for adults has been lowered to $10 and the fee for children and seniors is now $5.

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