COLUMBIA, SC (ArkansasRazorbacks.com) – Despite an impressive effort from lone senior Keira Peak in the first half, the University of Arkansas women's basketball team (16-8, 3-8 SEC) fell behind and never caught back up in a 67-49 defeat against No. 6/7 South Carolina (22-2, 10-1) at Colonial Life Arena on Sunday.
Keira Peak carried the Razorbacks in the first half, scoring half of the team's points with nine on 4-for-7 shooting. The senior finished with nine points, seven rebounds and five steals. Jessica Jackson would later chime in and finished with eight points and six rebounds, while Calli Berna came to life in the second half and finished with nine points, three steals and one assist.
The shooting woes of Arkansas were too much, however, as the Razorbacks finished just 30 percent from the field and marked a new season-low performance. Despite being outscored just 34-31 in the second half, the first-half deficit was too large and the hole dug too deep, as the Razorbacks were never able to fully climb their way back out and into a lead. UA was outscored 33-to-18 in the first half.
Scoring just 18 points in the first half, it marked the second-lowest point total in a half for Arkansas this season. The Razorbacks got off to a rough shooting start, opening just 14 percent (1-7 FG) from the floor. Peak had the team's lone basket, as the Gamecocks took a 5-2 lead by the first media timeout. Arkansas played tough inside early, as South Carolina held just a 5-to-4 edge in rebounds. South Carolina built its largest lead of the game at 24-10 by 7:20 to play in the half. The Razorbacks dipped to just 17 percent shooting and had attempted just one 3-pointer. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks were an impressive 60 percent and were 1-for-1 from 3-point range. The physical nature and size of South Carolina continued to present challenges for Arkansas, as the Gamecocks worked the ball inside for 18 points in the paint in the first half and a 31-15 lead by the 2:35 mark. Elem Ibiam led the way with eight points and two rebounds.
The Razorbacks opened the second half shooting 50 percent and piecing together a 6-2 push to cut into South Carolina's lead at 35-24 by the first media timeout. A pair of costly foul mistakes led to back-to-back and-1 plays from the Gamecocks and an 8-0 run that helped SC push its lead back to 45-27. The shooting woes of Arkansas continued in the second half, as it finished the game with a season-low 30 percent performance. With just under four minutes to play, seven different Razorbacks had scored but none reached double digits. Four different Gamecocks reached double figures, as Welch finished the night with 16 points, Mitchell had 15 and both Ibiam and Coates had 10.
QUOTING COACH COLLEN
"When you're down double digits--15 points--you're looking up and you feel like your players are a little stressed. I think it is what it is and South Carolina is probably the best defensive team in the country," head coach Tom Collen said. "We've been struggling offensively and we played them on their home floor in front of a big crowd. They made great shots and it's a hard thing to overcome. I give our team credit, because I don't think they quit in the second half. They battled and we shot the ball better in the second half, but South Carolina is arguably a Final Four team. I think they're the best team in this league."