She finally feels like she’s coming into her game.
Former Nazareth basketball star Bianca Cuevas-Moore waited two seasons for her chance to step into the spotlight — and now she is seizing her opportunity, settling into a leadership and scoring role with South Carolina’s women’s basketball team.
“I play starting minutes most of the time, but I think coming off the bench is good for me,” said Cuevas-Moore. “I’ve been able to come in and make an immediate impact off the bench. I know it’s helping my team out on both ends of the ball.”
Cuevas-Moore has been a presence on the Gamecocks roster since she arrived at South Carolina. She set the freshman record for most games played (37) during the 2014–15 season, but this year things are different.
Cuevas-Moore has taken on a leadership mantle that she didn’t have before. She’s no longer looking to the upperclassmen on the team to guide her — she’s the upperclassman, and Cuevas-Moore has been the guiding force for South Carolina this winter.
“I watched the older girls that were in front of me and listened to what they told me,” she said. “So I learned from them, and now I’ve got younger players who look up to me and listen to me. I just try and set an example for them.”
Cuevas-Moore has gotten a bit more vocal on and off the court this season, but she’s still about actions first. The pep talks come after she puts the ball in the basket.
“I think I’m more of a leader by action,” Cuevas-Moore said. “I mean, everybody wants to score, so I do think it’s exciting for me, because I can actually show what I’m good at.”
The former McDonald’s All-American — who notched more than 20 points per game during her high-school career — averaged just under nine points in the Gamecocks’ first 22 games this season. Finding her shot has been a consistent work in progress.
Cuevas-Moore was recruited to shoot the ball, but the guard understands her role — score first, set up her teammates second — more than eer this year.
“I know that’s what coach wants me to, that’s my main focus,” Cuevas-Moore said. “I’ve been in the gym getting shots up, because that’s what I’m supposed to do for the team. I just want to try and score whenever I can.”
Cuevas-Moore is just one of seven South Carolina players to see action in each of the Gamecocks’ match-ups this year. She isn’t always starting — coming off the bench in 11 of 22 games — but she is settling into a rhythm on the court. It’s taken a weight off her shoulders, and that’s made it just a bit easier to keep taking shots.
“I’m just playing my game, and I don’t have to worry about if I’m going to get in the game or not or play a certain amount of minutes,” she said. “It’s just been fun.”
Cuevas-Moore is determined to keep taking shots and, most importantly, keep leading her squad during the final stretch of the regular season. She’s not looking too far ahead, but a leader is ready for anything — including a run at the Southeastern Conference title.
“We’ve just got to take it game by game and stay focused,” Cuevas-Moore said. “We want to make it further than where we did last year and not come up short.”