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Feb. 26, 2004

The South Carolina women’s basketball team lost its opportunity to force a tie for 11th place in the SEC standings Thursday night as the Gamecocks fell to Kentucky, 71-54 in Memorial Coliseum. The Gamecocks (10-16, 1-12) were led by Iva Sliskovic’s 15 points and eight rebounds. Lauren Simms and Stacy Booker scored 14 and 13 points, respectively. Kentucky junior Sara Potts lit the nets for five threes and led all scorers and rebounders with 24 points and nine rebounds.

Kentucky (11-15, 3-10 SEC) trailed 9-11 in the opening stanza when Potts went on a scoring spree, netting 11 of the next 13 points for the Cats. UK opened a 25-17 lead and never looked back. Potts and senior Shambrica Jones teamed up to score 27 of UK’s 33 first-half points. Potts hit four trifectas in the opening half and connected on 5-of-13 shots from the field for 17 points. Jones netted six of the Cats’ first nine points and went into the break with 10. USC committed 13 turnovers in the half and shot only 30.8 percent en route to a 33-19 haftime deficit.

The duo of Potts and Jones helped the Cats keep the hot hand in the second half. UK extended its lead to as much as 16, 52-36, on a Potts jumper with 4:37 left in the game. The Gamecocks continued to battle and pulled within 10, 56-46 after an 8-2 run with 2:51 remaining. The Cats answered with four consecutive points and forced one of USC’s 20 turnovers to put the game out of reach. The Cats made 9-of-12 free throws in the final 1:23 to secure the victory. UK made it to the line 33 times in the game compared to USC’s 15.

Four Cats registered double figures on the night. Jones and senior Danyelle Payne both scored 14 while Phillips, who was 10-of-13 from the line, brought in 13 points.

“Potts is a money shooter,” Walvius said. “What makes her tough to guard, different than other guards in the league, is that she can shoot the three with somebody in the face and she attacks the rim extremely well. She is also left-handed, which is a little bit different to defend. I thought she played a great game. We didn’t play her as smart as we should have. I thought they did a better job on Kelly Morrone than we did on Sara Potts.”

UK’s stifling defense allowed USC’s leading scorer, Kelly Morrone, just three points in the game. Morrone entered the contest averaging a team-high 12.6 points and leading the SEC in three-point field goal shooting. USC, who came into the game shooting 36.2 percent from beyond the arc, managed only 5-of-25 from the three-point line for 20.0 percent. The Cats and Gamecocks ended the battle of the boards in a tie with 37 each.

South Carolina will end the regular season with a Sunday game against Vanderbilt in the Colonial Center. Game time is set for 2:00 p.m.