The South Carolina women opened SEC Tournament play on Friday as the event’s No. 2 seed and the winners of four straight championships. While Mississippi State has been the team to beat in conference this season, the Gamecocks were expected to at least challenge the Bulldogs for the crown in their drive for five titles.
Instead, South Carolina lost its first SEC Tournament game in years in shocking fashion, falling 95-89 to the 10th-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks in the quarterfinal round.
Earlier in the season, USC had beaten Arkansas 87-79. This time around, the Gamecocks struggled to contain Razorbacks guard Chelsea Dungee, who put up 31 points, and the rest of the Arkansas offense, which was on fire from 3-point range (11 of 22). While South Carolina went on some runs of its own and even took a third-quarter lead, the Hogs always came up with an answer to keep the Gamecocks at arm’s length.
Adding insult to injury, the 95 points allowed were a program worst in the SEC Tournament, as well as the most points allowed in the Dawn Staley era.
Mikiah Herbet Harrigan led South Carolina with 27 points off the bench, while Ty Harris (24), Alexis Jennings (16), and Bianca Cuevas-Moore (10) rounded out the double-figure scoring for USC.
The Gamecocks (21-9) now await their NCAA Tournament fate, set to be announced March 18. Should South Carolina remain a top-16 seed — which grants home court advantage through the first two rounds — USC will play its games on UNC Charlotte’s campus, since Columbia is a regional host for the men’s NCAA Tournament.