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SEC WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT - QUARTERFINAL - Simmons Bank Arena - North Little Rock, AR

South Carolina downs Arkansas to advance

3195 days ago
Associated Press

Game Notes | Box Score | Photo Gallery | South Carolina Quotes | Arkansas Quotes

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Tiffany Mitchell had 12 points and No. 3 South Carolina advanced to the Southeastern Conference Tournament semifinals with a 58-36 win over Arkansas on Friday.

It's the third semifinal appearance in the last four seasons for the top-seeded Gamecocks (28-2), who are seeking their first tournament title after back-to-back regular-season conference titles. They'll face the Texas A&M-LSU winner on Saturday.

Alaina Coates added 11 points for South Carolina, which outscored Arkansas 27-3 in bench points and had a school-record 15 blocks -- including four each by A'ja Wilson and Elem Ibiam.

Jessica Jackson had 13 points to lead Arkansas (17-13), which defeated Mississippi on Thursday. The Razorbacks trailed throughout and shot a season-low 19.3 percent (11 of 57) from the field.

Arkansas, desperate to secure its first NCAA Tournament appearance in three seasons under first-year coach Jimmy Dykes, struggled mightily in the first half against South Carolina's interior size -- hitting only 7 of 31 shots (22.6 percent).

The Razorbacks were outrebounded 44-32, but their biggest problems came while trying to score inside against South Carolina's combination of the 6-foot-5 Wilson and 6-foot-4 Ibiam, who also had nine rebounds.

The Gamecocks topped their previous best of 14 blocks as a team, both times coming last season. They had 11 blocks in a win over Arkansas two weeks ago, also topping their previous season-best of 12 in their last game against Kentucky.

After falling behind by as many as 14 points in the first half, the Razorbacks cut South Carolina's lead to 38-31 early in the second half after a pair of free throws by Jackson. The points capped a 6-0 run and 14-7 overall start to open the half.

Coates, however, ended the run with a putback of her own miss on the other end -- starting an 8-0 run by the Gamecocks that gave them their largest lead of the game at 46-31.

South Carolina defeated Arkansas 73-56 in Fayetteville two weeks ago, with Mitchell controlling the game with 15 points, five steals and three blocks.

The two-time SEC Player of the Year continued her mastery over the Razorbacks on Friday, particularly in the first half -- when she finished with 10 points of her 12 points overall as the Gamecocks built a 31-17 halftime lead.

Coates' 11 points came off the bench for South Carolina, which was coming off only its second loss of the season -- a 67-56 setback last week.


Arkansas: The Razorbacks' previous season-low shooting percentage was 26.8 in a 57-41 loss to end the regular season at Missouri last week. Jackson, a second-team All-SEC selection, was 2 of 13 from the field -- with both of her field goals coming on 3-pointers.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks, the top shooting team in the SEC, finished 24 of 54 (44.4 percent) from the field. South Carolina entered the game having hit 47.7 percent of its shots this season.


Arkansas now waits for its postseason destination to be determined.

South Carolina moves on to face Texas A&M or LSU on Saturday.