By KALANI TAKASE
HONOLULU — Khadijah Sessions isn’t usually looked to much on the offensive end of the floor, but the point guard played a big part in South Carolina’s 67-51 win over Hawaii Sunday night.
Sessions scored all of her 11 points after halftime to help the Gamecocks (7-0) in the final game of the Rainbow Wahine Showdown. They went 3-0 over the weekend to win the four-team tournament.
The 5-foot-8 senior scored nine of her points as part of a 17-6 run that gave her team a 51-35 lead after three quarters.
“We changed up our defense,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said about the run. “We just went to a zone and kind of made them think a little bit and then once we got a steal or two under your belt, it gave us a lot of energy to continue to play on that side of the ball. We’ve got our work cut out for us on that side of the ball. We’re not the team that we were in the past obviously, so slowly but surely we’re trying to figure things out on that side.”
The Gamecocks got 23 points off of 20 Hawaii turnovers and also held the edge in point in the paint, 36-18.
A’ja Wilson scored 18 points. The 6-foot-5 forward, a freshman All-American last season, shot 8 of 15 from the field and grabbed five rebounds before fouling out with 2:40 left. She was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
“I think this team is still trying to find its identity,” Staley said. “When our post players aren’t dominant I think anybody can beat us and I think for a large portion of the game they weren’t dominant. We
had one that was pretty consistent in A’ja Wilson – all tournament long – we’ve just got to her counterparts in a place where they’re as productive as she is.”
Tiffany Mitchell had 14 points, Bianca Cuevas 13 and Sessions 11 for the Gamecocks. South Carolina shot 46 percent from the field and led by as many as 18 points.
Destiny King scored 15 points for Hawaii (4-3). Megan Huff had 13, and Ashleigh Karaitiana 10. King also grabbed seven rebounds, as did Kalei Adolpho.
Mitchell, a two-time All-Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, made five of her 10 field goal attempts, including a pair of three points. Cuevas was 5-of-12 shooting coming off the bench and also WAS named to the all-tournament team.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks scored 24 of their 36 points in the paint after halftime. They were 50 percent (13 of 26) from the field in the second half.
Hawaii: It was the second loss to a ranked opponent in two days for the Rainbow Wahine, who dropped a 75-49 decision to No. 16 Arizona State on Saturday. ... Hawaii made only eight of 18 free throws.
Wilson was not the only South Carolina post player to battle foul trouble. Forwards Sarah Imovbioh and Jatarie White, as well as center Alaina Coates all finished with four personal fouls.
“It was just king of one of those games where it’s a good things that we have layers and layers of post players,” Staley said. “If we don’t have four post players, four bigs that we can rotate in there we
would have been in trouble. Sometimes you’ve just got to make adjustments and I don’t think we made adjustments to the game and we’ve got to do a better job of that.”
South Carolina will host No. 15 Duke next Sunday.
Hawaii will face BYU on Thursday.