HONOLULU (RNN) – The South Carolina Gamecocks have begun their trip to paradise on a winning note, defeating the Saint Mary's Gaels 78-71 in the first round of the Diamond Head Classic.
The Gamecocks (3-5) are the first loss of the 2013-14 season for the Gaels (9-1).
South Carolina took the lead early on, going on an 18-7 run toward the end of the first half. The Gaels trailed by six points going into the second half and tied the game at 50 with 12 minutes left. Despite the charge, the Gamecocks pulled away and held on to the lead. Saint Mary's rallied to tie the game three times in the second half, but could never take over.
Guard Tyrone Johnson led all Gamecock scorers with 16 points. Forward Laimonas Chatkevicius scored 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
The Gamecocks shot 18-of-29 from free throw range compared to the Gaels shooting 80 percent from the foul line. South Carolina was better from downtown than Saint Mary's, going 57 percent compared to 36.8 percent.
South Carolina plays the Boise State Broncos on Monday, Dec. 23 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN 2.
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