Staley hopeful injured guard Cooper can return to Gamecocks

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina coach Dawn Staley was hopeful that injured scoring leader Te’a Cooper would play against Tennessee on Sunday.

Cooper sprained her ankle early in No. 13 South Carolina’s 65-57 loss to No. 16 Kentucky on Thursday night. Staley said Friday it was nothing more serious than a sprain and that the guard was walking around comfortably at practice.

Cooper, who tops South Carolina with 12.2 points a game, told Staley she wanted to play. That may be because Cooper began her career with the Lady Vols and made the all-Southeastern Conference freshman team in 2016 before transferring to the Gamecocks.

Staley said Cooper was in “a lot better position than she was yesterday” to return to the lineup.

Cooper has started 24 games for South Carolina (19-7, 11-2).