The Gamecocks lost to Belmont Monday, 68-62, to remain winless on the season.
There were several times in the game the Gamecocks (0-16, 0-4 OVC) fell behind and fought back to get close, but could never overtake the lead. They came from 14 down with 4:50 left to get within five with 1:14 to go before Belmont (8-8, 3-1) closed it out from the foul line.
“I loved how hard we played,” Watts said. “We played sharp, played as hard as we could play against a very good team.“Had we been able to hit a shot in the first half, we’d have won this ball game.”
Buckner, who had scored only 29 points all season in her return from a freshman season-ending knee injury, was 6 of 11 from the field. Belmont’s Katie Brooks led all scorers with 19 points.
“I just think Coach Watts’ enthusiasm just really got me going,” Buckner said. “She hasn’t given up on us yet.”
Others have. The Gamecocks suffered their first casualty of the losing streak as leading scorer and rebounder Briana Morrow withdrew from the university for what Watts could only describe as “personal reasons.” The sophomore was averaging 9.8 points and 8.7 rebounds this season -- 12.3 and 9.3 in OVC games.
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.