COLUMBIA, S.C. - Auburn (11-7, 2-3 SEC) was held to 39.6 percent shooting from the field Sunday as South Carolina (10-7, 3-2 SEC) pulled away in the second half for a 63-49 win at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C.
Senior KeKe Carrier led Auburn with 14 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots. Junior Alli Smalley scored eight points late in the game to finish in double figures with 12 points. Her 12 points put her in a tie for 25th all-time at Auburn in career scoring, giving her 988 career points alongside Tara Williams (1995-97).
"It was a tough shooting day for us," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. "South Carolina's defense was very good. We had some good looks on the inside and missed some easy shots."
The Tigers finished the day 21-of-53 from the field, including a 9-of-26 showing in the first half. Auburn also connected on only one of five 3-point attempts and 6-of-12 free throws.
"South Carolina penetrated on us at will today, our defense was rather porous and they made us pay for it," said Fortner. "They are so different than they were last year. Than can push the ball so much harder and penetrate the basket so much better than they ever have."
Leading the Gamecocks was transfer Valerie Nainima with 20 points and four assists. She was 6-of-9 from beyond the arc with five of her treys coming at crucial moments for South Carolina. Freshman center Kelsey Bone finished the day with 15 points and nine rebounds.
USC led throughout the first half and it looked as if Auburn would go into the locker room down by three when the Gamecocks' Nainima hit two 3-pointers in the final 34 seconds to give South Carolina a 28-19 lead at the break.
The Gamecocks extended the lead to 13 early in the second half and it was Nainima again hurting the Tigers as she hit three 3-pointers on three straight possessions, extending the South Carolina lead to 20 at 53-33, forcing on Auburn timeout.
Smalley hit a 3-pointerwith 3:43 to go that cut the lead to 15. It was her seventh point of the game and moved her into 26th all-time at Auburn in career scoring with 983 career points, passing Diann McNeil (1984-88).
Carrier connected on a jumper on Auburn's final possession to cut the Gamecock lead to 14, ending in the 63-49 loss.
For the first time since the San Diego State game, Auburn lost the rebounding battle. The Tigers pulled down 31 rebounds to South Carolina's 38. USC also pulled down 15 offensive rebounds and turned them into 17 second-chance points.
The Gamecocks shot 41.4 percent from the field on the game and 53.3 percent from 3-point range. South Carolina also connected on 7-of-9 free throw attempts.
Auburn will return to action Thursday as the Tigers host Vanderbilt. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. from Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. The game will be broadcast live on CSS.