COLUMBIA, S.C. — Freshman guard A'dia Mathies scored a career-high 20 points Thursday night, but it wasn't enough to lift Kentucky.
In their first game since knocking off No. 17 Vanderbilt in Memorial Coliseum last weekend, the Cats had to play catch-up for much of the night and fell 79-71 at South Carolina.
Junior point guard Amber Smith scored 19 points, and Victoria Dunlap and Lydia Watkins added 10 points each.
Kentucky (13-3, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) had no answer for South Carolina's 6-foot-5 center Kelsey Bone, who led all scorers and rebounders with 23 points and nine boards. Four other Gamecocks scored in double figures and Carolina outrebounded UK 40-29.
UK scored the first four points but found itself trailing 22-14 with 11:15 remaining in the first half. A three-pointer by Amani Franklin sparked an 11-0 run and helped the Cats regain a 25-24 lead with 6:54 to go.
Bone stopped the scoring drought for the Gamecocks (9-7, 2-2 SEC), netting back-to-back buckets for four of her 10 points at the break. South Carolina went on a 13-6 run from there to take a 37-33 halftime advantage.
UK played most of the first half without Dunlap, its leading scorer and rebounder. She picked up her second foul with 11:15 left.
Smith hit a jumper to pull UK within one at 39-38 with 18:40 remaining in the game but South Carolina took over from there. The Gamecocks went on a 22-9 run to take a 61-47 lead with 9:47 left.
Mathies hit both of her three-pointers with 1:17 to go to pull the Cats within 77-69, but they could get no closer and South Carolina held on for the win.