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Jan. 21, 2007

Box Score | Quotes | Notes

Starkville, Miss. – The South Carolina women’s basketball team shot well Sunday afternoon against Mississippi State but was mediocre in its specialty – rebounding – as the Gamecocks dropped an 87-73 decision in Southeastern Conference play. The Gamecocks fell to 11-9 overall and 1-4 in conference play while the Bulldogs improved to 11-8 overall and 2-3 in the conference.

The Bulldogs were only the fourth team to outrebound the Gamecocks this season, taking a 41-33 advantage against the nation’s sixth ranked rebounding team. It was only the second time this year that the Gamecocks collected fewer offensive rebounds than their opponent as Mississippi State collected 20 to Carolina’s 14.

Lauren Simms led the Gamecocks with a season-high 20 points and added six assists while Shannel Harris scored a season-high 10 points on a 4-of-5 effort from the field. Brionna Dickerson contributed 11 points to the Gamecock total.

Lakesha Tolliver continued her recent strong all-around play, adding seven points and three assists with career-highs of five blocks and three steals. Tolliver’s fifth block of the day moved her past Schonna Banner for sole possession of fourth place on the school’s all-time blocks list with 104 rejections.

Tolliver entered the game in sixth place with 99 blocks before her second block of the game with 9:20 remaining in the first half tied her with Sharon Gilmore. She then rejected two more shots in succession early in the second half to tie Banner on the list with 16:14 remaining in the game. She recorded her final block with 9:12 remaining, putting her three rejections behind teammate Iva Sliskovic for third place.

Despite shooting the ball well, both teams started off slow due to committing a combined five turnovers in the first 90 seconds of the game. Trailing 10-5 early in the game, South Carolina hit three consecutive shots and took its first lead of the game, 11-10, when Sliskovic hit a jump shot, but the Bulldogs retaliated with their third three-pointer of the game to take the lead with 13:12 remaining in the half.

The Gamecocks opened the game on 6-of-9 shooting, but the Bulldogs kept its lead with three-point shooting and offensive rebounds, collecting seven offensive boards in the opening 10 minutes of the game. The Bulldogs went 7-of-15 from beyond the arc in the opening stanza to stay ahead despite the Gamecocks shooting 54% (15-of-28) from the field. Mississippi State finished the game 11-of-22 from beyond the arc.

Carolina never trailed by more than six points in the first half, coming within one point twice. Trailing 38-32, Tolliver hit a jumper to close within four with a minute remaining in the game but then was called for two offensive fouls within a 20 second span to give Carolina four players with two fouls at the end of the half. The Bulldogs held a 40-34 lead with 50 seconds remaining but missed its next two shots, making way for Simms to hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to take momentum into the half with the score 40-37.

The Gamecocks and Bulldogs again started the second half with ball control problems, combining for six turnovers in the first two and a half minutes. Harris’s three-pointer with 15 minutes remaining cut the Bulldog lead to four points, 46-42, but two small runs increased the lead to double-digits for the first time in the game. Trailing 55-44, the Gamecocks never brought the deficit under 10 points as the Bulldogs continued to shoot and rebound their way to the 87-73 victory.

The 87 points are the most the Gamecocks have allowed to an opponent this season after entering the game with the nation’s 16th ranked scoring defense at 54.7 points per game.

The Gamecocks return home Thursday night when they host Florida. South Carolina has won three of the last five meetings against the Gators, including last season’s 81-63 victory in Gainesville. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the Colonial Center.