COLUMBIA, SC – Brittney Vaughn had 14 points to lead three Lady Razorbacks in double digits but it wasn’t enough as Arkansas fell at South Carolina, 59-50, in Southeastern Conference women’s basketball.
Arkansas, 17-5, dropped to 2-5 in league play as South Carolina, 12-10, picked up its first SEC win of the season.
A scrappy Arkansas team forced 25 turnovers out of South Carolina, Carolina’s height advantage was too much for the Lady’Backs.
With five players at or above the tallest Arkansas starter, Carolina outrebounded Arkansas, 56-26, leading to scoring advantage in the lane.
“I hate to use that as an excuse because taller doesn’t mean better,” UA head coach Tom Collen said. “Our great weakness as a team happens to be one of South Carolina’s few strengths.”
Demetrius Adams pulled down 26 rebounds by herself, equalling Arkansas as a team, and breaking a 33-year old record for rebounds in a single game for a Carolina player.
“We’re not going to win a lot of games when that happens,” UA 5-11 senior Sarah Pfeifer said. “It was frustrating, but we have to get back in the gym and work harder to rebound.”
The Gamecocks went on a 10-0 run that defined the game early in the second half. Arkansas tried to stop the USC surge after six points with a time out. The Lady’Backs managed a turnover, but Charity Ford rimmed out a breakaway layup. Carolina answered the miss with a three-pointer from Jordan Jones to take a 33-25 lead.
The lead extended to 10, 35-25, before Arkansas rallied. The Lady’Backs cut the lead to four, 40-36, with 10:34 left on a three-point play by Vaughn.
From that point, Carolina did just enough to keep the Lady’Backs at bay as Arkansas cut back to four and then six down the stretch but could not complete the comeback.
“Felt like there wasn’t a real sense of urgency in the team until the closing minutes,” Collen said. “That part was a little disappointing because when you go on the road it is always tough in the SEC. I hope that we can bring a little more energy at home.”
Arkansas’ defense set the tempo early, holding the Gamecocks to only 21 first-half points and keeping the Lady’Backs in the game in spite of a cold stretch just before halftime.
Carolina carried a 21-19 lead into halftime, but stumbled out of the intermission as Arkansas regained its offensive touch for the first two minutes to tie the game at 24-24.
In the first half, the teams traded leads until a 7-0 run by Arkansas gave the Lady’Backs a 17-11 lead with 5:59 left in the period. Vaughn’s coast-to-coast steal and layup started the run, followed by a buzzer-beating jumper from Pfeifer and a deep three-pointer from Ford to close the stretch.
Carolina began to overcome its turnover troubles with rebounding and went on a 10-2 run over the final eight minutes of the first half. USC had an 11-rebound advantage by half.
During USC’s run, Arkansas hit only one field goal in 11 attempts, but the Lady’Back defense slowed Carolina to a stop. Neither team scored in the final 4:04 of the first half as Arkansas forced 15 turnovers from USC, a +9 turnover advantage.
Arkansas got 11 points each from Pfeifer and Brereton. Adams led all scorers with 18 for USC, followed by 15 for Brionna Dickerson and 10 for Jordan Jones.
Arkansas returns to the court on Thursday, Feb. 7, for the Hogs Think Pink game against Georgia at Bud Walton Arena.