COLUMBIA, S.C. – The LSU women’s basketball team had its four-game winning streak come to a close as top-ranked South Carolina defeated the Lady Tigers, 86-62, on Thursday evening as 12,342 fans gathered at Colonial Life Arena. 

With the loss, LSU (14-10, 8-4 SEC) dropped into a fourth place tie with Mississippi State in the SEC standings. South Carolina (23-1, 11-0 SEC) remained tied for the SEC’s top spot with Tennessee.

“I give a lot of credit to South Carolina,” head coach Nikki Caldwell said. “They were able to come back after a tough game at UConn and play with a lot of intensity and play with a lot of focus during tonight’s game. A’ja Wilson did an unbelievable job of establishing herself again as one of the best players in the country. I want to give credit to our team. I thought we fought in the second half. We tried to execute our game plan offensively, and we did a nice job of distributing the basketball. We also had offensive rebounds come into play for us. We’re going to take this game, learn from it and move forward.” 

Danielle Ballard and Sheila Boykin secured double-doubles to pace LSU. It marked the first time on the season that two Lady Tigers picked up double-doubles in the same game.

Ballard tallied 14 of her team-leading 16 points as LSU outscored the Gamecocks by a 42-38 margin during the second half. She extended her run to eight consecutive games with 10-plus points and hauled in a season’s best 12 rebounds to go along with five steals. 

For Boykin, she turned 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting and matched her career-high with 12 rebounds. She dished out three assists coupled with two blocks and two steals.

Anne Pedersen came away with 11 points on 5-of-10 from the floor. She has collected double figures in two of her last three outings.

Raigyne Moncrief tacked on 10 points and five assists to give LSU four starters in double figures for the first time on the season. The last time the Lady Tigers accomplished that feat was during their SEC Tournament victory over Alabama last season. 

As a team, LSU amassed a 25-for-70 shooting clip and misfired on six of its seven three-point attempts. The Lady Tigers knocked down 11-of-13 at the free throw line. LSU worked its way to 19 offensive rebounds and held a 16-8 edge in second-chance points.

South Carolina was fueled by A’ja Wilson’s career-high 26 points and eight rebounds. The freshman standout was 7-of-12 from the floor and 11-of-15 at the charity stripe. The Gamecocks also received 12 points from Khadijah Sessions followed by 11 points courtesy of Tiffany Mitchell.

The two teams traded three ties and a pair of lead changes during the opening five minutes. South Carolina seized the momentum up 13-10 with 13:27 remaining. The Gamecocks proceeded to rip off 23 of the next 29 points over the next 7:53 off the clock. The Sessions-Wilson combo tallied 15 of the 23 points during the flurry to make it 36-16 at the 5:35 mark.

South Carolina carried a 48-20 advantage into the locker room after Mitchell and Wilson connected on three-pointers inside the final 69 seconds. The Gamecocks were an efficient 19-of-30 from the floor and dialed up five treys during the opening 20 minutes.

Out of halftime, LSU was able to regroup and grinded out an 18-8 spurt behind Ballard and Pedersen to begin the second half. They contributed six points apiece. A pair of Ballard free throws brought the Lady Tigers within 56-38 with 11:44 left.

LSU was able to play even until the Gamecocks closed the contest with 10 of the final 14 points over the last two minutes to collect the 24-point win. South Carolina scored 49 of the game’s 53 bench points.

“We’ve been examining the substitution patterns we’ve been going with,” Caldwell said. “It’s something that I changed in the second half. We have to be a team that can give our starters some breaks. When we went to our bench, there are two things that we talk about. That’s either maintaining or elevating our level of play. I thought South Carolina’s bench did exactly that for them. That was one of the differences in tonight’s game.”

LSU returns to action after its second conference bye and faces No. 24 Georgia next Thursday. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. inside the Maravich Center. The game will be carried online only by SEC Network Plus courtesy of www.WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app.

The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game on its flagship station Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge.  Patrick Wright, the voice of the Lady Tigers, will call the action. The radio broadcast also will be available for Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.

For all of the latest news and information on Lady Tiger basketball, visit www.LSUsports.net/womensbasketball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/LSUwbkb, @lsuwbkb and @NikkiCaldwell on Twitter, @LSUwbkb and @LSUNikkiCaldwell on Instagram.