Paul Boyd is a sports reporter for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He was voted Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2018.
No. 16 South Carolina surges past Arkansas
Arkansas' Malica Monk tries to shoot the ball while South Carolina's Destanni Henderson attempts the block Sunday Feb. 3, 2019 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. The Hogs lost 87-79 and are back at home Sunday against Auburn.
FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas women’s basketball team was hoping to celebrate a Super Sunday at Bud Walton Arena, but No. 16 South Carolina had other ideas.
The Gamecocks trailed for the first three quarters but scored 35 fourth-quarter points to rally for an 87-79 Southeastern Conference win.
Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said the Gamecocks (16-5, 8-1 SEC) looked like the team that’s been to multiple Final 4s in the fourth quarter.
“They just turned it up another level,” Neighbors said. “I don’t know why. They just looked like a different team in that fourth quarter.
“We were the aggressor in the first three quarters, they were aggressive in the fourth quarter. In this league, the spoils usually go to the aggressive team. I look down and see 35 points in a quarter and I know some of those were because we fouled late. But that’s an output, that’s video game numbers. They were just clutch."
South Carolina started the fourth quarter with a 7-2 spurt to grab its first lead of the night, 59-58, on Tyasha Harris’ layup with 7 minutes, 55 seconds left. Arkansas (16-7, 5-4) tied the game at 62 on a basket by Taylah Thomas, but the Gamecocks responded with a 9-0 run in less than 90 seconds to take control.
The Razorbacks, which led 39-33 at halftime and 56-52 after three quarters, got no closer than four the rest of the way.
Freshmen Destanni Henderson and Victaria Saxton came off the bench to lead the Gamecocks with 19 points apiece, while Harris chipped in 15. That trio combined for 32 of South Carolina’s 35 fourth-quarter points, including 12 from Henderson.
The 6-foot-2 Saxton was a perfect 7-of-7 from the floor and 5-of-5 from the free-throw line in scoring her 19, along with grabbing nine rebounds and blocking three shots in just 20 minutes of action.
The Gamecocks finished with five players in double figures as Bianca Cuevas-Moore added 14 points and Alexis Jennings 10.
Arkansas sophomore Chelsea Dungee poured in a game-high 32 points, including 21 in the second half. But she said South Carolina turned the tables on them in the fourth quarter.
“The difference was we were attacking them and going to the basket and in the fourth quarter they turned around and did that to us,” Dungee said. “They shot a lot of free throws in the fourth quarter and got a lot of and-1s. I think think that was the gamechanger.”
Malica Monk added 25 for Arkansas, meaning she and Dungee combined for 57 of its 79 points. The lack of another consistent scorer was a key, too, Neighbors said.
“I thought Mal carried us in the first half and she carried us in the second,” Neighbors said. “We just didn’t have a third or fourth option tonight. You've got to have that to beat these teams at the top of our league.”
• South Carolina missed its first 10 shots from the floor and didn’t make a field goal for the first four-plus minutes.
• The Gamecocks outrebounded Arkansas 54-42, led by Jennings’ double-double. The 6-3 senior grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds and scored 10 points.
• South Carolina’s bench outscored Arkansas’ 40-9.
The Razorbacks travel to LSU on Thursday before hosting Auburn on Feb. 10.
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