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February 9, 2012

WBB: Arkansas crushes Gamecocks



PER USC

At Fayetteville, Ark., Dawn Staley was worried about South Carolina having a big-game hangover, despite a bye week after beating No. 8 Tennessee.

Whether it was that or just simply not playing well, the Gamecocks had their winning streak broken - emphatically.

Arkansas crushed USC 68-47 on Thursday, winning its seventh straight and ending USC's four-game winning streak. The Gamecocks were out of it immediately after Markeisha Grant stroked a 3-pointer to begin the game; the Razorbacks (18-5, 7-4 SEC) scored the next 14 points.

"We were not focused tonight," assistant coach Nikki McCray told the Gamecocks' radio crew afterward.

Grant, who scored a career-high 27 points against the Lady Volunteers, was in foul trouble all night and only posted a meager nine. Her teammates couldn't help her, turning the ball over 14 times in the first half and 23 for the game, their most since a loss at LSU. Arkansas scored 26 points off the gaffes.

Trailing 33-17 at the half, USC hoped to cut into the lead right out of the locker room. Instead, Arkansas quickly doubled the score, 44-22, and cruised for the duration.

The loss dropped USC into a three-team tie for third place in the SEC, with Arkansas and Georgia. If the SEC tournament began today, the tiebreaker would go to Georgia, with Arkansas coming in next, meaning USC would finish one spot outside of the four byes for the tournament. If Vanderbilt goes on to beat Tennessee tonight, it will be a four-team tie for third.

The Gamecocks (18-6, 7-4) will attempt to win their 19th game, a high under Staley and one that would make her 3-for-3 in improving her overall win total from season to season, on Sunday by hosting Florida. A win there would also tie last year's SEC win total, which has also improved in each year under Staley.

In a matchup of the top two defenses in the SEC, Arkansas clearly won. The Razorbacks made 48 percent of their field-goal attempts while USC couldn't hit anything, and couldn't hold on to the ball enough to try to get itself started. The Gamecocks gave up their highest point total of the season.

NOTE: Senior Courtney Newton returned to the starting lineup after missing the last two games with a concussion.

Just because SIGNING DAY is over doesn't mean our coverage of the
big day stops. We have more analysis of USC's 2012 signing class, plus
all of our normal content on GamecockCentral.com. Don't miss a thing
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