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March 1, 2015

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Team 1st 2nd Total
South Carolina 22 34 56
Kentucky 27 40 67
Post-Game Press Conference

LEXINGTON, Ky. – No. 2/2 South Carolina could not find its offense in a 67-56 loss at No. 11/13 Kentucky, shooting a season-low 32.3 percent from the field in the regular-season finale on Sunday. A’ja Wilson was stellar for the Gamecocks (27-2, 15-1 SEC), netting 16 points, a career-high 19 rebounds, the highest single-game total by a freshman in school history, and a career-high six blocks.

The first half was one of fits and starts for both teams with neither establishing any offensive flow. Fouls and turnovers dominated the box score for the half, but so did Wilson for South Carolina. With Aleighsa Welch battling through effects of a stomach flu, Wilson asserted herself as the primary force inside for the Gamecocks, and the freshman had nearly a double-double and blocked three shots in the opening period alone.

It was Tiffany Mitchell scoring early for the Gamecocks to keep things close, and back-to-back 3s from her and Bianca Cuevas seemed to get the Gamecock offense back on track as they capped an 8-0 run that put South Carolina on top 11-7 with 10:07 to go in the period. Wilson made it a 13-7 advantage with a drive a minute later, but Kentucky would not let the lead get any bigger.

After Wilson hit 1-of-2 free throws for a 16-12 Gamecock lead, the Wildcats launched a 7-0 run, which Wilson helped stop by bringing the ball up the floor and feeding Welch on the left block for a bucket. Kentucky closed the half strong, covering the defensive glass and capitalizing on a pair of Gamecock turnovers to take a 27-22 lead into the locker room.

The second half got off to a similar start for the Gamecocks who suffered three straight turnovers to open the period. Limited in the first half by foul trouble, Alaina Coates set a commanding presence in the post and repeatedly went to the free throw line, but the Wildcats opened a 35-25 lead with 15:38 to play and Makayla Epps and Jennifer O’Neill dominating the early scoring. It took the Gamecocks 7:34 to hit their first field goal of the half, and the Wildcats had built a 43-28 lead by that point.

The Kentucky lead ballooned to 21 points, 50-29, with 11:22 to play, and the Gamecocks got Welch back in the lineup. The ailing senior converted a traditional three-point play then scored in the lane on the next trip up the floor, giving South Carolina the momentum it had been lacking. Mitchell hit a pull-up jumper from the left elbow, and the run was in full flight. Defensively, South Carolina hounded the Wildcats into tough shots and then controlled the boards. Tina Roy hit back-to-back 3s, Wilson put back a miss and Khadijah Sessions converted a transition layup for a 53-46 score behind the 17-3 run that spanned nearly five minutes.

Trips to the free throw line allowed the Wildcats to re-establish their advantage as the Gamecock offense cooled and Kentucky rounded out the 67-56 win.

With three late 3s, Roy joined Wilson in double digits with 10 points. Mitchell added eight points despite missing the final 4:45 of the contest after fouling out. Coates helped the Gamecocks on the glass with seven rebounds. Sessions struggled, committing a season-high five turnovers while notching just one assist. The Gamecocks and Wildcats were even on the boards with 45 rebounds each.


With the Gamecocks trailing 25-31 three minutes into the second half, Kentucky launched an 8-0 run to grow the lead to double digits at 14. Wildcat guard Jennifer O’Neill scored six of her 15 points in the two-minute stretch.


While the Gamecocks shot just 32.3 percent from the floor, they limited the Wildcats to just 31.7 percent, but Kentucky earned trips to the free throw line and made them count. The Wildcats were 27-of-35 (77.1 percent), while South Carolina hit just 10-of-20 in the contest.


  • Led by Wilson’s career-high 6, the Gamecocks swatted 12 shots, the most this season.
  • South Carolina recorded 20 turnovers.


UP NEXT South Carolina will open play in the SEC Tournament in North Little Rock, Ark., on Fri., March 6, at 1 p.m. (ET), when they will face the winner of the (8) Ole Miss vs. (9) Arkansas game the previous day. The game will air live on the SEC Network.