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Feb. 9, 2014

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 6/7 South Carolina used an early run and solid defense throughout to post a 67-49 win over Arkansas Sunday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena. In front of 7,545 fans, the Gamecocks (22-2, 10-1 SEC) held the Razorbacks to just 29.8 percent shooting in their second-lowest scoring game of the season. South Carolina had four players in double figures, led by 16 from Aleighsa Welch, who also blocked a career-high five shots.

Both teams struggled offensively early, but Tiffany Mitchell generated enough offense to get in front until her Gamecock teammates caught up. Defensively, the Gamecocks were locked in defensively from the opening tipoff, holding the Razorbacks to a season-low 18 points in the opening 20 minutes on just 20.0 percent shooting.

After Mitchell scored the first five points of the game, the Gamecocks went inside to Elem Ibiam on the next possessions, and the junior answered with a pair of hook shots to go up 9-2 six minutes into the game. The Razorbacks found some offense, but not enough to keep up with the Gamecocks for long. After Keira Peak swiped a steal and hit a layup in transition to make it a 17-10 game with 9:32 left in the half, South Carolina scored 10 unanswered points with four Gamecocks contributing.

Alaina Coates got the run going with a putback of her own missed shot, and Khadijah Sessions delivered three free throws after being fouled outside the arc. After a Tina Roy defensive rebound, Ibiam hit from underneath. Welch blocked a shot on the other end, and Roy drained a 3 at the end of the hsot clock to put the Gamecocks up 27-12 with 5:52 to left in the period.

Arkansas inched closer, only to see the Gamecocks respond and carry a 33-18 lead into the locker room at halftime after shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 7-of-7 from the free throw line.

The Razorbacks chipped away at the lead in the second half, pulling within 10 at 37-27 with 15:26 to play, but the Gamecocks again answered the call. Coates hit a short jumper, then Welch pulled in a pair of defensive rebounds to hold the Razorbacks to one tough shot on each of the next two possessions. The Gamecocks pushed the ball up the floor on both occasions, resulting in traditional three-point plays for Mitchell and Welch to stretch the lead to 18 less than two minutes later.

South Carolina battled for points down the stretch, finishing the second half shoot just 34.6 percent from the field in the period, but the defense stayed solid, not allowing the Razorbacks to make much headway the rest of the way.

Joining Welch in double figures were Mitchell at 15 an Ibiam and Coates with 10 each. Coates and Mitchell led the way on the glass, where the Gamecocks out-rebounded the Razorbacks 42-28 in the game, with eight rebounds each. South Carolina won despite 19 turnovers, limiting the Razorbacks to just 11 points on those miscues while scoring 11 points off nine Arkansas turnovers.

The Gamecocks are on the road for the next two games, beginning at No. 16/14 LSU on Sun., Feb. 16.