FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas let a seven-point lead slip away and missed a scoring opportunity with mere seconds on the clock in regulation before falling in overtime to South Carolina, 64-62, in Bud Walton Arena Sunday.
Arkansas (16-7, 4-7 SEC) had a two-point, 55-53, lead with 14 seconds on the clock in regulation but committed an inadvertent foul sending Carolina to the line with a chance to tie the game.
South Carolina (13-10, 5-5 SEC) struggled from the line for much of the game but converted the bonus shots to tie the game.
Arkansas drew up a play and got the ball into the hands of its go-to player in junior C’eira Ricketts for a last-second play. Ricketts brought the ball up the court but the Razorbacks had some confusion on the play and a screen clogged up the area for Ricketts who couldn’t get a good shot off as the clock expired.
The teams moved into the overtime period with the Gamecocks scoring first but Arkansas quickly tied it up again and the back-and-forth nail-bitter continued.
The game was tied at 62-all, the ninth tie of the afternoon, with just seven seconds on the clock but another Razorback foul sent Carolina to the line with the game at stake.
Gamecock La’Keisha Sutton found the net on both bonus shots finishing with a game-best 21 points and leaving the Razorbacks just five seconds to attempt a shot.
Arkansas managed a shot but it was off the mark and South Carolina escaped with the win.
"It’s a disappointing loss," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. "It’s extremely painful. You always have the sense that you are a favorite at home and that you will have success. We were disorganized down the stretch and I take responsibility for that. We don’t have much experience in winning close games like that and I have to teach this team how to handle those situations better."
Ricketts paced Arkansas with 18 points and sophomore Sarah Watkins had her second consecutive double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Lyndsay Harris added 10 points and three assists in the loss.
Junior Jamesha Townsend tied her career-best with six points and hit a big two-pointer at the mid-point of the second half that gave Arkansas a led they held for much of the period.
South Carolina did a good job of taking Arkansas out of its comfort zone in the first half. The Gamecocks put together a 14-4 run taking a 20-14 lead into the third media timeout of the opening frame. The Razorbacks suffered through a 6:22 scoring drought letting their opponent control the tempo over the long run.
Harris led Arkansas with seven points at the break followed by Ricketts with six but sophomore Sarah Watkins was held scoreless in the first half as South Carolina took a six-point, 25-19, lead into the locker room.
Arkansas has a bye Thursday and returns to the floor Sunday, Feb. 13, hosting Auburn in a 4 p.m. game that is also televised by ESPN2.