COLUMBIA, S.C. – 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.”
- Keira Peak finished the game with a team-high nine points, seven rebounds and three steals. The senior has now scored seven or more points in seven of her last eight outings.
- Calli Berna shared the team scoring lead with nine points of her own, three steals and one assist. The junior bumped her season assist total to 170 and moved closer to breaking the program’s class record for most assists by a junior in a season. Amy Wright had 198 assists as a junior. Averaging 7.3 assists per game and with eight games left, Berna is well on pace to erasing Wright’s mark for her own.
- Berna now has 466 career assists, which ranks fifth all-time in program history.
- Jessica Jackson finished with eight points, six rebounds and two steals, but was a career-low 1-for-12 (8%) from the field. The freshman was 6-for-6 at the free-throw line. Jackson saw her streak of consecutive double-digit games end at six. She has reached double figures in 21 of 24 games this season, including 13+ points in 13 of the last 15 contests.
- Arkansas recorded 13 steals in the game, marking its second-highest total this season. The Razorbacks also forced South Carolina into 19 turnovers.
- The Gamecocks came in averaging 75.0 points per game, but the Razorbacks allowed 67 points in the win. Arkansas is first in the SEC and second in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing opponents an average of just 51.5 points per game this season.
- Arkansas scored just 18 points in the first half, marking the second-lowest point total in a half for Arkansas this season. The Razorbacks shot just 20 percent (6-for-30) from the floor in the first half.
- The Razorbacks finished at just 30 percent shooting (17-57 FG), which marked their worst performance from the floor this season. Arkansas is 3-5 this season when shooting less than 40 percent.
- Arkansas suffered its largest loss of the season, losing by a 18-point deficit in the 67-49 final.
- Arkansas fell to 2-1 this season when its finishes with the same amount of 3-pointers as its opponent. The Razorbacks were just 3-for-7 while the Gamecocks were 3-for-13
- Arkansas is now 3-7 this season when out-rebounded by its opponents.
- Arkansas is now 3-6 this season when outscored in the paint.
- Arkansas is now 1-5 this season when trailing at halftime. South Carolina held a 33-18 lead at the break.
- Arkansas is now 2-5 in away games this season, including a 1-5 mark in SEC road contests.
- The Razorbacks fell to 3-4 this season in games played Sunday.
- Tom Collen is 345-157 overall in 16 seasons as a head coach and 128-87 in seven years at Arkansas.
- Arkansas is now 17-12 all-time against South Carolina, including a 5-8 record in Columbia, S.C.
- Join @tomcollen as he holds another luncheon Monday at Guest House International. Tix and meal just $12. #GoHOGS
- Only three home games left this season, so come out to support and cheer on @RazorbackWBB at #BWA. #GoHOGS #NeverYield
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The Razorbacks return home and host Alabama at Bud Walton Arena on Feb. 9 in its annual Play 4 Kay Pink Game. Opening tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.