Missouri women's basketball to play at No. 1 South Carolina

South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso drives to the basket during Sunday's game against Mississippi in Columbia, S.C. Cardoso will miss tonight's game against Missouri. (Associated Press)
South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso drives to the basket during Sunday's game against Mississippi in Columbia, S.C. Cardoso will miss tonight's game against Missouri. (Associated Press)

The Missouri Tigers have a tough task ahead of them to break a four-game skid.

The Tigers (11-11, 2-7 Southeastern Conference) face the No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks (21-0, 9-0) at 6 p.m. tonight (SEC Network) in South Carolina, trying to win their first game since Jan. 18.

Missouri has dropped four consecutive games, most recently losing 80-69 at Tennessee on Sunday.

Senior guard Mama Dembele led the Tigers with 18 points, four steals and three assists in the loss. Dembele averages 9.6 points, 6.8 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game. Her assist mark puts her at the top of the SEC and fourth nationally, while her steals total is second in the conference and 11th in the country. The senior ranks fourth in assists in Tiger history and became the fourth Missouri player to surpass 400 for her career.

Freshman guard Grace Slaughter scored 14 points Sunday bringing her to third among SEC first-year players with an average of 11.4 points per game.

Sophomore guard Ashton Judd added 12 points and five rebounds for the Tigers on Sunday, bringing her season average to 13.5 points and 6.4 boards per contest.

Fifth-year senior Hayley Frank did not play Sunday, but she leads the Tigers with 17.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Frank is fourth on Missouri’s all-time scoring leaderboard and is 177 points behind Renee Kelly for third. Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said she expects Frank to return to the lineup tonight.

Missouri averages 73.5 points per game and allows 69.4. The Tigers will go against a South Carolina team steamrolling through its schedule.

The Gamecocks are third in the country with an average of 89.1 points per game with four players averaging double figure and three more with 9.0 or more. South Carolina has won only one game this season by less than 15 points, a 78-69 win against No. 11 Utah on Dec. 10, and beat the Tigers 81-57 at Mizzou Arena on Jan. 11.

Junior guard Bree Hall (6-0) led the Gamecocks with 21 points in the teams’ first matchup, while senior guard Te-Hina Paopao (5-9) scored 15 and sophomore guard Raven Johnson (5-9), junior forward Sania Feagin (6-3) and sophomore forward Ashlyn Watkins (6-3) all scored 10.

Senior center Kamilla Cardoso (6-7) leads the Gamecocks with 13.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest, but will be out tonight because she is playing with her country, Brazil, in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament this week.

Paopao is next for the Gamecocks with 11.8 points per game to go with 4.0 assists per contest, while freshman guard MiLaysia Fulwiley (5-10) scores 11.7 points, Hall scores 10.0, sophomore forward Chloe Kitts (6-2) adds 9.3 points and 6.1 rebounds, Johnson scores 9.3 points and dishes out 5.35 assists and Watkins contributes 9.0 points and 7.3 boards.

South Carolina leads the country in blocks per game (8.5) with an SEC-leading average of 7.1 in conference play.

The Gamecocks lead the all-time series 10-4 with a 6-0 record at Colonial Life Arena.