Gareth Patterson
February 19, 2015

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) With another opportunity on the national stage looming, South Carolina showed no signs of letting down or looking ahead against Arkansas.

Led by an all-around performance from guard Tiffany Mitchell, the No. 2 Gamecocks beat the Razorbacks 73-56 for their third straight win following a loss at No. 1 Connecticut - giving the school 25 wins for the fourth straight season.

Mitchell led four South Carolina players in double figures, finishing with 15 points, five steals and three blocks. And the junior did so with a matchup against the SEC's other unbeaten, No. 6 Tennessee, waiting on Monday.

For the Gamecocks (25-1, 13-0 Southeastern Conference), it's another chance to prove their national-championship credentials following the 87-62 loss at UConn on Feb. 9.

''We knew Monday's a big game, but we knew we had to take care of business here first,'' Mitchell said. ''We're still trucking along and have a lot of season left. We're not going to hang our heads after one loss.''

Alaina Coates and A'ja Wilson added 14 points for South Carolina, the top-shooting team in the SEC which finished 25 of 48 (52.1 percent) from the field.

Khadijah Sessions also added 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds for the Gamecocks, who had reached 25 wins in a season three times in 37 years before the last four seasons.

The Razorbacks (15-10, 5-8) hoped to take a major step toward their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2012 with their third win over a ranked team this season. Jessica Jackson had 20 points to lead Arkansas, but South Carolina had a 34-24 rebounding advantage and pulled away in the second half.

''They're everything I thought they would be, watching them on film,'' Arkansas coach Jimmy Dykes said. ''They're as good as anybody in the country right now.''

After starting SEC play 1-6 in its first year under Dykes, Arkansas entered Thursday's game confident after its recent wins - including a 54-48 victory over then-No. 24 Georgia. Against the formidable frontcourt of South Carolina, however, the Razorbacks fell behind by as many as 10 points in the first half and were unable to close within single digits in the second.

Led by the 6-foot-5 Wilson, along with 6-4 centers Coates and Elem Ibiam, the Gamecocks had 30 points inside the paint - with Wilson finishing 7 of 10 from the field. Coates was 5 of 8 and grabbed 11 rebounds.

South Carolina led by 10 points in the first half and never trailed, though Arkansas used a 9-0 run early to cut the lead to 16-15. The Gamecocks led 38-31 at halftime before opening the second half on a 10-2 run, with Mitchell scoring on a three-point play to go up 48-33.

''Our league prepares us for runs like the run Arkansas went on,'' South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said.

Jackson had 14 of her points in the second half, finishing 8-of-19 shooting and with nine rebounds. Calli Berna matched her season high with 13 points, also finishing with seven assists and five rebounds for the Razorbacks.

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TIP-INS

South Carolina: The 5-foot-9 Mitchell was one of three players to finish with three blocks for the Gamecocks, who finished with a season-high 11. Wilson and Ibiam also had three blocks each. ''We're known for our bigs, but I thought our guards came to play with getting some blocked shots,'' Staley said.

Arkansas: Berna entered the game averaging 5.5 points per game, but she was 5 of 7 from the field - including 3 of 3 on 3-pointers. The senior also had 13 points earlier this season against South Dakota State.

LONG-RANGE

South Carolina continued to shoot well from behind the arc, hitting 7 of 17 3-pointers overall with Asia Dozier hitting 3 of 4. The Gamecocks, the top 3-point shooting team in the SEC, entered the game having hit 27 of 59 (45.8 percent) 3-pointers over their last five games.

UP NEXT

South Carolina: Hosts No. 6 Tennessee on Monday.

Arkansas: Hosts LSU on Sunday.

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