LadyBacks Knock South Carolina

FAYETTEVILLE -- In a game that could charitably be described as ugly, Arkansas defeated South Carolina 61-49 on Sunday afternoon in Bud Walton Arena.

"Today was not great basketball," said UA coach Susie Gardner. "It may not be ESPN highlights, but we'll take it right now."

Arkansas (12-6, 2-5 in the Southeastern Conference) shot just 38.6 percent from the field and a woeful 40.7 percent from the free throw line, while getting outrebounded 49-40 by the taller Gamecocks.

But South Carolina (6-13, 0-5 SEC) shot even worse from the field (31.1 percent) and committed 22 turnovers, including 15 in the first half when Arkansas took a commanding 35-22 lead before 3,084 enthusiastic home fans.

The Gamecocks threatened mildly in the second half, getting within 37-27 by the 17-minute mark, but could never get closer despite one six-minute scoring drought by Arkansas.

South Carolina coach Susan Walvius, who apparently was watching a different game, credited Arkansas with a great game and good shooting.

"Arkansas bothered us defensively and affected our offensive game," Walvius said.

That latter part rang true. The Lady'Backs protected their nation-leading status in steals by getting 11, including three by Rochelle Vaughn.

"We emphasized to our guards about putting tremendous ball pressure on South Carolina," Gardner said. "We have to find ways to win, with only three healthy inside players. Today I think our defense was obviously the key. We got some loose balls and layups."

Walvius said Arkansas point guard Kristin Peoples had "an exceptional game."

Peoples led the Lady'Backs with 12 points, but probably didn't feel exceptional after a 1-of-5 first half.

"At least it feels better than the LSU game," Peoples said, referring to Arkansas' 91-45 loss to the No. 2 Lady Tigers on Thursday night.

Sarah Pfeifer had 10 points for Arkansas, also earning Walvius' praise.

"I'm always impressed with Pfeifer," Walvius said. "She's so solid, and works extremely hard. She had four assists, and that's good for a big kid."

Ilona Burgrova, a 6-foot-6 freshman, led South Carolina with 14 points, including a sweeping hook shot in her 6-of-7 repertoire.

Kristina Andjelkovic of Arkansas matched Burgrova's hook shot in a seven-point day off the bench. She also gave the Lady'Backs something of an inside-outside rhythm by making some good passes to the perimeter.

"I noticed that last year, watching Kristina play in junior college," Gardner said. "She passes it out to guards on the weak side, and does have a feel for the game."

With UA post players Kristin Moore and Ruby Vaden out for the season with knee injuries, Andjelkovic (6-2) will likely continue to play 20 or more minutes per game off the bench for the undersized Lady'Backs.

Arkansas guard Adrienne Bush sounded undaunted by her team's lack of inside depth.

"We have some very winnable games coming up on our schedule, and we've got Tennessee and LSU at home," Bush said. "We hope to come out with a winning slate in February and turn around our misfortunes against LSU and Tennessee."

Peoples endorsed not only those sentiments but Bush's articulation of them.

"Where did you get that vocabulary?" Peoples asked Bush. "Excellent!"

Walvius could take encouragement from the fact that 5-foot-8 Gamecocks guard Stacy Booker, in just her second start of the season, had a game-high 13 rebounds.

The Gamecocks host Tennessee on Thursday night.

Arkansas, after a nonconference game at Missouri-Kansas City on Tuesday night, returns home for a rematch against Ole Miss at 2 p.m. Sunday. The Lady Rebels won last time, 86-73 at Oxford, Miss.


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