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Feb. 12, 2009

Box Score

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – With neither team able to take control in a tight second half, Arkansas hit big shots down the stretch to scratch out a 58-54 win over South Carolina at Bud Walton Arena tonight. The Gamecocks (9-14, 1-9 SEC) had a chance to tie or take the lead twice in the final 20 seconds but could not connect, and the Razorbacks (14-11, 3-7 SEC) hit 3-of-4 free throws to seal the win.

The Gamecocks fell behind early, trailing 12-2 six minutes into the contest, before C.J. Pace hit a pair of free throws and Courtney Newton sank a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to narrow the gap to five points at the 11-minute mark. The teams traded baskets before the Gamecocks put together another mini-run on Lakeisha Sutton’s drive and Pace’s 3-pointer from the left baseline brought the deficit back to three at 14-17.

Lyndsay Harris answered with a 3-pointer for Arkansas, but South Carolina had the answer. Sutton hit a long jumper from the right wing, Tonia Williams connected from the right block and Samone Kennedy knotted the game at 20-20 with a drive through the lane with 5:50 left in the half. The Razorbacks took another four-point lead but saw the Gamecocks erase it, and the teams went into the locker room tied 28-28.

In the second half, the teams traded four-point leads five times with the Gamecocks fighting back to tie the game 53-53 on a drive from Kennedy and a Williams bucket from the right block with just over a minute remaining. The Razorbacks’ Shanita Arnold fought through tough Carolina defense to find Charity Ford who drove the left baseline and pulled up for a jumper and a 55-53 Arkansas lead with 33 seconds left to play.

On the Gamecocks’ next possession, Williams drove the right baseline but could not score through the Arkansas defense. She battled for her own rebound, though, and was fouled with 21 ticks on the clock. The freshman hit the second of her two free throws to cut the deficit in half. The Gamecocks showed good defensive pressure, but could not get a steal and were forced to foul. Ayana Brereton hit both free throws to stretch the lead back to three. The Gamecocks ran a play for Pace but her 3-pointer hit the back rim, and Carolina sent Whitney Jones to the free throw line, where she hit just 1-of-2 but was enough to close out the victory.

Sutton led the Gamecocks offense with 15 points to go with her five assists, while Williams netted a career-high 13 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. Pace finished with 10 points and three steals.