Feb. 8, 2007
Fayetteville, Ark. – Lauren Simms scored a season-high 23 points coming off the bench as the South Carolina women’s basketball defeated Arkansas 74-69 Thursday night at the Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. The Gamecocks, winning their first SEC road victory of the season, improved to 14-11 overall and 4-6 in conference play while the Lady Razorbacks fell to 18-8 overall and 3-7 in conference play.
The victory was also the first for the Gamecocks in Fayetteville as the Lady Razorbacks held an 8-0 advantage at home prior to Thursday night’s contest.
Simms, who last Sunday became the 26th player in school history to score 1,000 career points, shot 10-of-15 (67 percent) from the field to eclipse her previous season-high of 20 points set against Mississippi State. Lakesha Tolliver tied a career-high 19 points, last set against Longwood last season, to go along with five rebounds. Shannel Harris tied her season-high with 10 points and tied her career-high of eight rebounds to help lead the Gamecocks.
South Carolina trailed by as many as 10 points in the second half before going on an 11-0 run over 4:55 period to take its second lead of the game and claim the win. Trailing 64-59 with 5:34 remaining in the game, Simms knocked down a jumper to pull within three. Larissa Kulcsar forced an Arkansas charging foul on the next possession before Tolliver hit a layup to pull within one, 64-63. On Arkansas’s next possession, Tolliver stole the ball and the Gamecocks pushed it up court before turning it over themselves, but Stacy Booker took the ball away from Leslie Howard and hit a layup to take the 65-64 lead with three minutes remaining.
A three-pointer by Simms and shot by Tolliver increased the lead to 70-64 before the Lady Razorbacks ended the drought with an open layup with 39 seconds remaining. However the Gamecocks hit the late free throws and held on for the win.
South Carolina, the nation’s No. 10 rebounding team with a +9.5 margin entering the game, held a 52-35 advantage on the boards. Carolina committed 13 turnovers, the least amount of giveaways against an SEC opponent this season and benefited from a 53-19 advantage in bench scoring.
The Gamecocks fell behind early in the first half, trailing by as many as eight points early. Led by Simms’s 5-of-7 effort from the field in the first half, the Gamecocks fought back within two points four times before rattling off an 8-0 run in the final five minutes to take their first lead of the game, 35-33, with 3:25 remaining in the half. Both teams relied on free throws as the teams went into the half with a 36-36 deadlock.
Tolliver, a redshirt junior, collected four of South Carolina’s five blocks in the game, extending her streak of consecutive games with a block to 18 in a row. The total gives her 116 rejections on her career, putting her into a tie with Petra Ujhelyi for second place on the South Carolina all-time blocks list. Michelle Murray is the school record holder with 148 blocked shots.
The Gamecocks return to action Sunday afternoon when they travel to No. 9 Georgia. The Bulldogs will be Carolina’s fifth opponent ranked in the top-10 this season.