Despite a career-high 22 points from junior Shantell Black, Ole Miss couldn't continue their winning ways Thursday, falling to South Carolina 76-67 inside Tad Smith Coliseum.
"This is a team that can't handle success right now," head coach Renee Ladner said. "We take two steps forward and on step back. We worked extremely hard preparing for South Carolina. When they applied a little pressure, they made us play fast on the offensive end. I can't say our effort wasn't there. We played hard, but didn't play smart."
It was the Brionna Dickerson show throughout, as the Gamecock senior accounted for 31 points on the night.
"She's explosive," Ladner said of Dickerson. "We kept backing up and giving her open looks. She got to many looks tonight and that's something that just can't happen."
In half dictated by runs, the Lady Rebs hit the ground running, scoring the first five points in the contest. But the game would slow from there, as South Carolina (9-9, 1-4) capitalized on sloppy play by the Rebels to tie the contest at nine.
USC scored five consecutive points to take the lead, but the Lady Rebels responded. Junior Bianca Thomas converted a layup for two points, sparking a six-point Ole Miss run.
However, the Gamecocks continued to challenge the Rebel defense, scoring seven-straight points to lead 24-15. After Ole Miss pulled within four, South Carolina piled up 12-consecutive points to lead 32-20, before Shantell Black connected on one-of-two free throws to finally put Ole Miss back on track.
The Rebels added four points to cut the lead to seven late in the first, before a three-point buzzer beater by Courtney Newton gave the Gamecocks a 35-25 lead as time expired.
The running continued in the second, as Ole Miss used an 11-point spurt to take the lead 36-35 early. But USC would follow with 10 of their own, before sophomore Allesha Easley converted a two-point basket to cut the lead to 45-38.
Both teams exchanged multiple baskets for most of the half, until Ole Miss cut the Gamecock lead to eight off a layup by freshman Kayla Holloway. But Lakeisha Sutton converted two free throw attempts to keep the Gamecocks ahead 69-59.
The Rebels made things interesting late, as Black continued her impressive night with another basket with a little under two minutes to play. After Goff fouled out at the 1:30 mark, junior Elizabeth Roberson scored four-straight points to pull her team within six.
USC would put the game away, however, with three free throws conversions by Newton. With the final horn sounding, South Carolina exited Oxford with their first conference win.
Ole Miss returns to action Sunday at Florida. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m.
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