LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kastine Evans hit two free throws with 8.8 seconds left, and No. 9 Kentucky fought back from a 14-point halftime deficit Thursday night to beat No. 14 South Carolina 78-74.
Jennifer O'Neill scored 19 points for the Wildcats (22-3, 10-2 Southeastern Conference).
The loss was the first in 19 games this season for South Carolina (20-5, 8-4) when it led at halftime. Aleighsa Welch and Elem Ibiam led the Gamecocks with 15 points apiece.
South Carolina shot 18 of 32 in the first half, and its efficiency improved early in the second. The Gamecocks made their first five attempts after halftime and did not miss a shot until 11:05 was left.
But the Wildcats answered methodically, limiting their turnovers and maximizing opportunities despite a rebounding disadvantage. A'dia Mathies hit a 3-pointer with 3:50 to play that gave Kentucky its first lead of the second half at 69-68.
South Carolina looked ready to pull away early in the game. It went on a 13-2 run over a four-minute stretch in the first half, silencing the 5,828 fans at Memorial Coliseum. Each time the Wildcats worked their way back into close range in the first half, South Carolina had an answer.
Asia Dozier hit a 3-pointer as time expired in the first half to give the Gamecocks a 44-30 lead at the break, and South Carolina's lead reached its widest margin at 46-30 with 19:41 to play.