FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team came up short in its upset bid Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena, falling 73-56 to No. 2/2 South Carolina. Jessica Jackson and Calli Berna combined for 33 points, but it was not enough as Arkansas’ record drops to 15-10 and 5-8 in conference play. South Carolina remains unbeaten in league play at 13-0 and 25-1 overall.
The reigning SEC Co-Player of the Week, Jackson paced the offense with a game-high 20 points and nine rebounds. Jackson eclipsed the 20-point mark for the third time this season and the first in SEC action.
The senior Berna poured in 13 points to match a season-high while also dishing out seven assists and grabbing five rebounds. Berna has tallied at least five assists in each of the last four conference contests.
Senior Jhasmin Bowen and sophomore Kelsey Brooks contributed eight points apiece.
South Carolina jumped out to a 10-point edge at the 11:07 mark in the first half, but the Razorbacks responded with a 9-0 run over the next 2:08 to trim the lead down to one. Berna accounted for five points over that run with a driving layup and a spot-up triple.
Arkansas again had the lead down to two with 5:24 in the half, but the Gamecocks would close the half outscoring the Razorbacks 13-8 to take a 38-31 lead at halftime.
Berna paced the Razorback attack in the first half, as she scored or assisted on 9-of-12 baskets.
South Carolina scored the first seven points to open the second half, pushing its lead to double digits for good. Trailing 55-38 with 10:12 left, Jackson scored the next 11 of 13 points for the Razorbacks including a triple and two old-fashioned three-point plays. Arkansas trimmed it to 12 with 9:14 remaining but Alaina Coates and A’ja Wilson connected on back-to-back baskets to extend the lead.
Coates and Wilson were two of four Gamecocks to finish with double-digit points, led by 15 from Tiffany Mitchell. South Carolina also swatted a season-high 11 blocks.
The Razorbacks were able to cut the lead to as low as 10 with 6:18 after a three-point play from Jackson. South Carolina answered back with a 7-0 run to seal the win.
South Carolina held a slight edge in points in the paint over Arkansas 30-26. The Razorbacks shot 40.7 percent from the field compared to 52.1 for the Gamecocks.
Arkansas continues its three-game home stand on Sunday, facing LSU at 1 p.m. on ESPNU.
“I knew we’d never back down from a fight, and I’m very, very proud of the way we did fight. South Carolina is good enough to win the whole thing, they are deserving of their No. 2 ranking. They showed it tonight, just their physical strength inside was too much to handle. We’d try to put pressure on to see if we could get the lead down to 10, nine, but it was their size around the rim. It seemed like every time we’d make a big play, defensively we did exactly what we wanted to do, we played off the crowd, but at some point 6’3’’, 6’4’”, 6’5’’, is hard to match up against all night. Offensively we played well. We shot 40%, for us that’s good, and we made half of our threes. We didn’t do a good job at the free throw line, we probably left six or seven points out there. They beat us 73-56, it could have very easily been a different ballgame.” – Head coach Jimmy Dykes
POST GAME NOTES
• Sophomore Jessica Jackson finished with 20 points, the third time this season and first in conference play she’s recorded 20 or more points. Jackson has been in double figures in each of the last five games.
• Senior Calli Berna matched a season-high with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
• Berna had 10 points in the first half, the second time this season she’s been in double-digits at the break
• Berna played all 40 minutes, the sixth time this season she’s played 40 or more minutes
• Berna finished with seven assists and has recorded four or more assists in all 13 conference games this season.
• Arkansas led South Carolina in second-chance points, 13-9, while pulling down 10 offensive boards.
• Arkansas scored 14 points off 18 Gamecock turnovers.
• Head coach Jimmy Dykes was whistled for his first career technical foul at the 13:11 mark in the second half.