It’s taken 12 years for South Carolina to start its basketball season with five straight wins. The last time was in 2003-04, when the Gamecocks won the Hoops for Hope Classic and, this year, the team’s 5-0 start comes after winning the V.I. Paradise Jam men’s championship Monday night against Tulsa.
Tulsa’s Golden Hurricanes have been a feisty team throughout the tournament, rallying for victories against Ohio and Indiana State. To start the game against South Carolina, Tulsa found itself down 12-2 after a three pointer from Sindarious Thornwell with 16:49 to go in the first half.
After the Gamecocks’ PJ Dozier scored a three pointer with about eight minutes left in the first half, the gap was widened to 17, 29-12, South Carolina.
Tulsa, like in its first two games, slowly narrowed the margin and, by halftime, the Gamecocks’ lead was down to 11, 38-29.
In the second half, South Carolina pushed the lead back to 16 on a layup from Thornwell, but Tulsa went on a 10-0 run – which was capped off by a three pointer from Pat Brit – to close the gap to six, 50-44, with 14:22 left in the game.
A minute later, Marquel Curtis’s layup made it a four-point game, 52-48, but that is as close as Tulsa would get.
In the final minutes, the Gamecocks made five of six free throws and held on for the 83-75 victory.
Laimonas Chatevicius led the Gamecocks with 17 points, followed by Thornwell – the tournament’s most valuable player – and Michael Carrera with 16 points.
For Tulsa, Shaquille Harrison finished with 20 points, followed by teammate James Woodard with 18.
In the third place game, Indiana State held off Hofstra, 67-66.
In the fourth place game, Florida State defeated Ohio, 90-81, and for seventh, DePaul beat Norfolk State 82-78.
The Paradise Jam All Tournament Team was made up of Florida State’s Dwayne Bacon, Hofstra’s Juan’ya Green, Tulsa’s Harrison, South Carolina’s Mindaugas Kacinas and Indiana State’s Khristian Smith.