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FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas contended with the nation's No. 1 team for about a half, but No. 1 South Carolina overwhelmed the Razorbacks in the third quarter to put away a 61-51 win on Sunday at Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas (11-6, 1-3 SEC) had the transitive win over the Gamecocks (17-1, 5-1) after beating Missouri, the only team to defeat South Carolina so far. But in the real test, trouble on the glass and scoring struggles doomed Arkansas against the Gamecocks.
Arkansas started to put together a comeback in the fourth quarter after being down 14 by the end of the third. The Razorbacks opened the final 10 minutes with an 8-0 run to cut South Carolina's lead to five, six of those unanswered points coming from Makayla Daniels.
Free throws by Daniels brought Arkansas within four, but a pair of free throws by Aliyah Boston after a foul on Emrie Ellis and a layup by Brea Beal extended the lead back to eight. Arkansas couldn't overcome the deficit with two and a half minutes to play.
"I think we missed an opportunity to do something that's super rare, to beat the number one team," Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said. "But that spontaneous hog call out there in that fourth quarter gave me memories of men's games in here when I was in college. It was loud, and it was important."
Inconsistency from three
Arkansas' 3-point shooting has been one of its strong suits, ranking fourth in the SEC. That trend looked like it would continue Sunday.
The Razorbacks' first nine points came on 3-pointers, including two by Amber Ramirez. Ramirez tied Daniels with 14 points to lead Arkansas and went 2-for-3 from 3-point range.
In the third quarter, though, Arkansas went 1-for-9.
The dry spell was part of a more than five minute scoring drought for Arkansas in the quarter and allowed South Carolina to put together a 13-0 run. By the end of the period, South Carolina led by 14.
"Going into the third-quarter media timeout, I got on them as hard as I've gotten on them all year long because I did not like what it looked like out there for that little spurt," Neighbors said. "I told them we had a great crowd there today on a snowy day, and they did not come to see that."
Arkansas shot 21% from beyond the arc, and five different players made shots from 3-point range. South Carolina made 39%, including 4-of-7 by Destanni Henderson.
Gamecocks on the boards
Rebounding has been a hallmark of South Carolina's success this season. The Gamecocks lead the nation in rebounding margin, while Arkansas ranks last in the SEC in the same category.
South Carolina out-rebounded Arkansas 45 to 25, and all but one player had at least one board. Eleven of its rebounds were on the offensive glass, resulting in 11 second-chance points.
Turnovers work in Hogs' favor
A week after posting a program-best two turnovers against Missouri, Arkansas gave away 10 to South Carolina. But the Gamecocks fared worse in giveaways with 19, giving Arkansas 16 points off turnovers.
South Carolina entered the game averaging about 15 turnovers per game. It had 14 in the second half against Arkansas alone.
Boston posted her 11th straight double-double, scoring 19 and grabbing 13 rebounds. Boston and Henderson led the Gamecocks in scoring.
Boston, a pre-season All-American, entered the game leading the SEC in field goal shooting with 57.5%. Against Arkansas, she shot 46% after being held scoreless for most of the second half.
Neighbors said he's long believed Boston to be the nation's best post player and that playing her in person again confirmed his feeling.
"I thought we were aggressively going (inside) when the ball was thrown in there because you knew it was coming in there," Neighbors said. "You do all that and you look up and (she has) 19 and 13. But that's what you have to do to keep it from being 25 and 25."
Arkansas will hit the road to play Alabama on Thursday (8 p.m. CT, SEC Network).
This article originally appeared on Fort Smith Times Record: Arkansas women's basketball falls to No. 1 South Carolina