By Rixon Lane
The first half has come to a close and Notre Dame leads South Carolina 32-28 in Tampa.
This afternoon, I listed the five matchups that would decide tonight's contest.
Here's how those matchups are going after 20 minutes.
1. South Carolina's FG Defense vs. Notre Dame's Shooting
Another slow start for the Gamecocks turned into easy looks near the basket for Notre Dame, something South Carolina could not afford to give up. The Gamecocks clamped down in the middle of the half, but the Irish went on another spurt before halftime and wound up shooting 41% from the floor in the first half.
2. South Carolina's Post Players vs. Brianna Turner
Turner led the Irish in points and rebounds in the first half, scoring 10 points and grabbing four boards. Aleighsa Welch led all players on the glass, but the Gamecocks were not able to slow Turner for a large portion of the first half. Of course, giving up layups in the early going didn't help matters for South Carolina.
3. Aleighsa Welch vs. Notre Dame's Defensive Rebounding
Welch finished the half with a team-high eight rebounds and South Carolina doubled up Notre Dame on the offensive glass in the first half. South Carolina's shot selection wasn't always great, but Welch gave the Gamecocks a fighting chance on with offensive boards.
4. Dawn Staley vs. Muffet McGraw
Staley's squad started slow, but they did so against North Carolina and Florida State and managed to win both of those contests. We won't know who won this matchup until around 8:30.
5. Tiffany Mitchell vs. Jewel Lloyd
Lloyd outscored Mitchell 10-5 in the first half and was a much larger factor on the offensive end. In fairness, Mitchell doesn't have to score as much because of South Carolina's multiple options, but Lloyd got the better of the battle in the first 20 minutes.