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South Carolina women suffer first loss of season to Notre Dame

The Gamecocks started hot, then went ice cold in the Gulf Coast Showcase tournament final.

Mar 27, 2017; Stockton, CA, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley reacts during the game against the Florida State Seminoles during the second period in the finals of the Stockton Regional of the women's 2017 NCAA Tournament at Stockton Arena. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

After dispatching Rutgers 78-68 and St. John’s 76-58 at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Fla., No. 3 South Carolina earned a heavyweight title bout with No. 6 Notre Dame on Sunday. Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, the familiar nemesis got the better of them again, and South Carolina’s 17-game winning streak stopped with a 92-85 Irish victory.

The Gamecocks got off to a good start, leading 28-18 after the first quarter. But foul trouble put point guard Ty Harris on the bench, and Notre Dame started to find its footing. Behind the strength of a 7-for-7 shooting stretch that added up to a 67% shooting performance in the second quarter, the Irish took a 41-38 lead into the locker room at halftime, and it was a lead they never relinquished. At one point, Notre Dame went on a 37-12 run as the Gamecocks failed to make consecutive baskets for nearly 20 minutes.

Star forward A’ja Wilson did her best to keep South Carolina in it, scoring a career high 34 points and pulling down nine rebounds to just miss another double-double. Alexis Jennings, voted to the event’s all-tournament team along with Wilson, finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Fellow starters Lindsey Spann (10) and Doniyah Cliney (12) also reached double figures.

Notre Dame edged the Gamecocks on the boards (35-33) and shot 55% from the floor — including 56% from three — and forced 16 South Carolina turnovers. Arike Ogunbowale scored 23 points and Jackie Young, the tournament MVP, added 22.

Up next: The Gamecocks (6-1) return to Columbia on Thursday to host Western Carolina at 7 p.m.