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Welch helps South Carolina tops LSU on the road

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)

After a great start to the season, LSU has been skidding lately.

The 19th-ranked Lady Tigers fell to No. 5 South Carolina 73-57 on Sunday, marking the first two-game skid for LSU since February of last year.

LSU junior guard Jeanne Kenney didn't mince words after the game, calling the loss a new low for the Lady Tigers.

''You can't get much lower than we are at this point for us, for LSU,'' said Kenney, who led the team with 15 points. ''It is a matter of asking ourselves when is it enough because I am tired of losing.''

LSU coach Nikki Caldwell took a more subdued response to her team's loss, giving credit to South Carolina for playing good basketball, but still struggled to hide her disappointment in the loss.

''I think this group has played some good basketball,'' Caldwell said. ''I do believe we've had opportunities to beat some of the best teams in our conference. There's been a consistent theme in our losses.

It's only the second time in program history South Carolina (23-2, 11-1 SEC) can claim a victory after walking out of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, and it puts No. 19 LSU (18-7, 7-5) on its first two-game losing skid since February of 2013.

Caldwell also credited South Carolina junior forward Aleighsa Welch and sophomore guard Tiffany Mitchell, who each scored 19 points.

''Getting wins on the road, especially this season, is imperative for us,'' Welch said. ''To be able to come down here and handle our business and keep it up for two halves is a huge confidence builder for us.''

Sunday marked the fifth conference road win for South Carolina this season, matching the school record set in 2013.

South Carolina coach Dawn Staley maintained an every-game-counts attitude before getting caught up in celebration of the ranked conference win.

''At this point, all wins in this league are good,'' Staley said. ''We haven't been very successful (at LSU). A lot of that has to do with the atmosphere, a lot has to do with the teams they put on the floor. It was the same today, but I think for longer stretches we played a little more disciplined.''

One of the primary factors in South Carolina's control of the game was a clear advantage at the free throw line.

The Gamecocks shot 21-for-28 from the line while the Lady Tigers took just four free throws.

''The concern is we got to the line four times, that's a concern,'' Kenney said. ''The fact that we shot only four free throws the entire game is a problem. Something has got to change there.''

LSU managed to keep the game close during the majority of the first half when both teams battled through nine lead changes before the break. But a 13-2 run just prior to halftime gave the Gamecocks a lead they would hold until the final buzzer.

Staley tried to give credit to LSU saying her team was just fortunate to be able to hold onto a lead after a few big runs, especially when LSU went on a hot streak of its own in the second half.

The Lady Tigers moved within two points of South Carolina with just over 11 minutes to play, but never managed to overtake the Gamecocks who went on another 13-4 tear and eventually securing the win.

''The win we had at Tennessee looks a lot smaller now with all these losses after it,'' said LSU senior forward Theresa Plaisance. ''One win isn't going to make or break a season but the losses have a harder effect on the state of the team.''

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