By: USC Sports Media
No. 13/13 South Carolina women's basketball suffered a 65-57 loss to No. 16/17 Kentucky Thursday night at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks (19-7, 11-2 SEC) shot just 34.6 percent from the field and committed 21 turnovers in their first SEC loss since Jan. 17. Senior forward Alexis Jennings narrowly missed a double-double with 12 pints and nine rebounds in her 34 minutes on the court.
The Wildcats took an early lead and held it through the first half as the Gamecocks struggled shooting the ball in the opening 20 minutes. The third quarter saw the tide turn, though, with South Carolina playing aggressively on both sides of the ball.
Tyasha Harris opened things up with a 3-pointer on the first possession, and it was her defensive rebound turned transition layup that put the Gamecocks up for the first time at 33-32 with 6:34 to go in the period. There were four lead changes and two ties down the stretch with the Gamecocks' aggression winning out as they went 8-of-11 from the free throw line in the third quarter to open a 43-40 advantage.
In the fourth, Kentucky turned up the defensive pressure, making the most out of half-court traps to tie up the Gamecock guards. South Carolina looked to run whenever possible, and Bianca Cuevas-Moore made it a 45-42 game with a transition layup early in the fourth. The Wildcats went on an 13-3 run immediate afterward, though, thanks to limiting the Gamecocks to just one tough shot on four straight possessions.
Trailing 48-55 with 4:34 to play, the Gamecocks looked for life with Destanni Henderson hitting a pair of threes and Cuevas-Moore adding a free throw, but Kentucky also hit big shots to stay in front. Facing a five-point deficit, 55-60 with 2:32 to play, the Gamecocks looked to extend the game and sent the Wildcats to the free throw line, where they hit 5-of-6 down the stretch while South Carolina's shooting woes continued.
The Gamecocks play their next two games on the road, beginning Sun., Feb. 24, at Tennessee in a 4 p.m. tipoff.