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Jan. 15, 2009

Box Score | Quotes

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina senior guard Brionna Dickerson poured in a season-high 20 points, but it was not enough in a 77-63 loss to No. 19/19 Florida tonight at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks (8-8, 0-3 SEC) trailed by 10 at the half and saw the lead balloon to 21 points with under eight minutes to play. A 14-2 run brought the deficit under double digits with just under a minute on the clock, but the Gators (16-2, 2-1 SEC) were solid at the free-throw line in the final minute to seal the victory.

South Carolina led the game through the first 10 minutes, scoring in every way imaginable. Dickerson opened the game with a 3-pointer from the left wing then drove the lane for the Gamecocks’ next bucket. Samone Kennedy hit a 3-pointer from the right wing, and freshman Charenee Stephens put up a short jumper from the right block to give the Gamecocks a 10-4 lead. After Florida’s Marshae Dotson hit 1-of-2 at the free-throw line, Dickerson’s free-throw line jumper pushed the lead to seven points at the 13:22 mark.

The Gators battled to keep the Gamecocks on the perimeter and crashed the boards to chip away at the lead. Dotson put the Gators on top 17-16 with a tough battle on the right block. Kennedy drove for a layup on the other end, which Dotson answered with a traditional three-point play to put the Gators back up 20-18 with 6:32 left in the half. Kennedy again drove the lane to knot things up at 20-20. Inside six minutes left in the half, Sharielle Smith drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key to spark an 8-0 surge, which Lonnika Thompson capped off with a free throw to give Florid a 28-20 margin just inside four minutes.

Trailing 25-35 at halftime, the Gamecocks came out of the locker room and went right to Adams for a bucket on the right block. The teams traded baskets on the next two possessions before Florida put together another mini-run to surge ahead 43-29 behind two straight Gamecock turnovers.

South Carolina appeared to right the ship offensively but could not come up with a stop on the other end. Back-to-back turnovers then helped the Gators extend their margin to 15 at 51-36 with 11:25 left to play. Sha Brooks put up eight straight points for the Gators, and Steffi Sorensen’s 3-pointer from the right sideline pushed the lead to its maximum at 65-44 with 7:46 on the clock.

Dickerson was the first Gamecock to step up as her 3-pointer from the right wing sparked a 14-2 surge that would get South Carolina within nine. Courtney Newton followed Dickerson’s triple with one of her own, and Dickerson netted the next three points on a free throw and a driving layup. After Azania Stewart’s layup pushed it back to a 15-point Gator lead, Lauren Falohun drove for a layup with 2:31 on the clock. Neither team found the basket for the next 80 seconds, until Lakeisha Sutton drive for a pair of layups to bring the Gamecocks to 68-59 with 54 seconds left to play.

Looking to generate possessions, the Gamecocks fouled the Gators on every ensuing possession, during which Florida hit 7-of-8 from the stripe to keep the Gamecocks at bay.

Dickerson’s 20 points included a pair of 3-pointers, while Kennedy added 11 points to her three assists. Demetress Adams fell one rebounds shy of a double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing a game-high nine boards. Brooks led all scorers with 25 points, while Dotson added 19 on a perfect 8-of-8 night from the field.

South Carolina heads to No. 13/15 Tennessee on Sun., Jan. 18, for a 3 p.m. matchup with the Lady Vols. The game will be televised live on SportSouth.