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Nov. 28, 2010

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DAVIS, Calif. – South Carolina dropped a 61-52 decision at UC Davis Sunday afternoon as the Aggies (5-1) battled back from a 16-point second-half deficit. The Gamecocks (2-4) found their shot early in the game, hitting 45.5 percent from the field, but 23 turnovers pair with Davis’ nine 3-pointers, including five in the second half, spelled South Carolina demise.

South Carolina used a 5-0 run early in the first half and an 8-0 spurt in the second to control the first half and take a 30-21 lead into the locker room. UC Davis was not deterred throughout the half, though, fighting back each time the Gamecocks seemed to create breathing room.

Ieasia Walker had the hot hand early, scoring five of the Gamecocks’ first seven points with a transition layup, a free throw and a put back as South Carolina opened a quick 7-2 lead despite a spate of fouls early in the game. Walker stretched the lead to 12-4 behind a 3-pointer from the top of the arc and a pair of free throws at the 13:45 mark. Back-to-back 3-pointers put the Aggies right back into the action, though.

With a tenuous 20-15 lead with 6:10 left in the half, the second Gamecock spurt built their largest lead at 28-13 as Marah Strickland hit a pair of 3-pointers and La’Keisha Sutton hit a layup after a scramble for the ball at midcourt.

The first-half effort, which saw the Gamecocks shoot 45.5 percent from the field, was nearly wiped completely away as the Aggies started hitting from outside. The long-range proficiency, which was 5-of-10 through the half’s first 12 minutes, generated a 21-8 surge that saw the Gamecock lead cut to one at 45-44 with 7:37 left of the clock. Four different players hit from 3-point range during the spurt.

Walker hit a mid-range jumper from the baseline to stretch the lead to 47-44 with 7:15 to play, and Hannah Stephens brought the Aggies back within a point on an uncontested drive through the lane as the Gamecocks were swarming around the 3-point line. Davis had a pair of chances to take the lead, but the South Carolina defense turned them away. Each time, though, the resulting possession yielded a turnover until Heidi Heintz gave the Aggies their first lead of the game with a move on the left block. Her backdoor layup on the next possession put Davis up 50-47 with 4:38 to play.

A layup by Ebony Wilson tightened the game again, but the Aggies cranked up the defensive pressure even further, holding the Gamecocks to just three points over the game’s final four minutes.

The bright spot for South Carolina was Strickland, who hit 5-of-11 from 3-point range to lead the team with 19 points. Jewel May continued her yeoman’s work in the post, pulling in a team-high eight rebounds. May also paced the squad with a career-best four assists in the outing.

The Gamecocks return home for their next three games, beginning Wed., Dec. 1, against Charleston Southern. Tipoff at Colonial Life Arena is set for 11 a.m.