COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 2/2 South Carolina began defense of its SEC regular-season championship with a dominant 85-32 win over Arkansas Sunday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena to remain undefeated (13-0) on the season. After a physical bout in the first quarter, the Gamecocks opened the second with three 3s, which were enough to reward the tenacious defense that turned Arkansas’ nine first-half turnovers in 19 points en route to a 44-18 halftime lead. Senior guard Tina Roy’s career-high 21 points came on a career-high seven 3s in the contest, including five in the third quarter, to help the Gamecocks outscore the Razorbacks 64-16 through the middle two periods.
The Gamecocks got off to a rough start against a pesky Arkansas squad, shooting just 22.2 percent (4-of-18) in the first quarter. A strong defensive effort, however, held Arkansas to just 27 percent shooting, yielding a 9-9 tie at the end of the period. It was then that Carolina caught fire from outside. Senior guard Tiffany Mitchell opened the second quarter squaring up for a 3, and Roy hit back-to-back triples to give the Gamecocks an 18-9 advantage just two minutes into the period. The Gamecocks extended their run through the rest of the half, outscoring the Razorbacks 35-9 in the second period, behind 73.7 percent field goal shooting and a swarming defensive effort that delivered five Arkansas turnovers, which South Carolina turned into 14 points.
South Carolina’s defense was aggressive the whole game as the Gamecocks held Arkansas to its lowest scoring output of the season and the lowest scoring output by a Gamecock opponent this season. Carolina held the Razorbacks to point totals of 9, 9, 7 and 7 in each quarter while forcing 18 turnovers and collecting 11 steals.
The defensive effort and sharp shooting allowed the dominance to continue into the third quarter as the Gamecocks again outscored the Razorbacks by a wide margin. Roy hit five 3s in the period, and South Carolina shot 61.1 percent from the field, extending its lead to 73-25 heading into the fourth.
Sophomore forward A’ja Wilson continued her strong play over the last five games with 14 points, 10 rebounds and a block for her SEC-leading seventh double-double of the season. Junior center Alaina Coates went for 11 points and 10 rebounds for her sixth double-double and fourth in the last five games. Mitchell finished with 12 points, 11 in the first half, with four assists and three rebounds, while sophomore guard Bianca Cuevas recorded 10 points, three assists, three steals, and two rebounds.
South Carolina opened the second quarter with three-consecutive 3s to help turn a 9-9 game into an 18-9 advantage 2:07 into the period.
The Gamecocks outscored the Razorbacks 35-9 during the second quarter while shooting 73.7 percent in the period.
- The Gamecocks enjoyed their highest scoring quarter of the season in the second quarter (35).
- South Carolina’s 11 3-pointers tied the most by the team in the Dawn Staley era.
- South Carolina has won 10 of its 13 games by double digits and six games decided by 20 points or more.
- The Gamecocks shot 67.6 percent (25-of-37) during the second and third quarters while holding the Razorbacks to just 24.1 percent (13-of-54) in the game, including 8.3 percent (1-of-12) from 3-point range.
- Senior guard Tina Roy netted a career-high 21 points while setting a new career high with seven 3s, two shy of the school-record nine.
- A’ja Wilson (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Alaina Coates (11 points, 10 rebounds) each recorded double-doubles, making it the fifth time this season multiple Gamecocks have posted double-doubles.
South Carolina travels to Vanderbilt for an SEC road contest on Thu., Jan. 7, at 9 p.m., before returning home to host No. 23/- Missouri next Sunday (Jan. 10) at Colonial Life Arena at Noon.s