ATHENS, Georgia — It was bad timing for a Georgia team already trying to overcome the loss of its top scorer to also be without its top rebounder.
Georgia scored the first basket and didn't lead again as the No. 22 Lady Bulldogs couldn't keep pace in their 58-35 loss to undefeated and top-ranked South Carolina on Thursday night.
Georgia starting forward Krista Donald, the team's leading rebounder, was suspended for the game for an undisclosed violation of team rules in another blow to the squad's depth. The Lady Bulldogs lost scoring leader Shacobia Barbee to a season-ending leg injury Jan. 25.
"Obviously, we were short-handed tonight, but that's not an excuse," Georgia coach Andy Landers said. "Things happen that you have to deal with and overcome."
Landers said Donald's suspension was only for one game.
Georgia (17-6, 5-5 Southeastern Conference) has lost three straight — all to Top 10 teams.
Bianca Cuevas scored 16 points and Tiffany Mitchell had 14 for the Gamecocks (22-0, 10-0), who play at No. 2 Connecticut on Monday night.
The Gamecocks also were missing their leading rebounder. Sophomore center Alaina Coates also was suspended for a violation of team rules.
Coach Dawn Staley said Coates, who participated in pregame warmups, will return against UConn.
"She's back," Staley said. "She served her time and we'll keep moving."
Cuevas, a freshman, led South Carolina in scoring while playing 20 minutes off the bench.
Landers said Cuevas was the "X factor."
"Believe it or not, that's the way I had it on the board," Landers said. "Watching tape in preparation for the game, she's gotten better and better. ... I told the kids before the game that she's no joke, this kid is for real. I put her on the board in a different color than everybody else."
Despite the warning from Landers, Georgia couldn't contain Cuevas, who made two 3-pointers and had two steals.
Aleighsa Welch had two points, 14 rebounds and three of the Gamecocks' 10 blocked shots, which matched their season high.
Georgia freshman Mackenzie Engram had eight points in her first start, including the game's first basket. It was the Lady Bulldogs' only lead.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks improved to only 3-15 at Stegeman Coliseum but have won four straight overall in the series. ... Elem Ibiam had eight points, three rebounds and two blocks before fouling out. ... The team-record 22 straight wins ties the longest streak for any South Carolina sport. The Gamecocks' 2000 baseball and 1979-80 women's tennis teams also had 22 consecutive wins.
Georgia: Georgia made only 5 of 28 shots from the field (17.9 percent) while setting a season low with 14 first-half points. ... Donald leads the team with 7.0 rebounds per game. ... Georgia has never beaten a top-ranked team in seven tries at home and fell to 3-17 overall against No. 1 teams. ... Georgia's 18-game home winning streak ended, included a 12-0 record in Athens this season. ... Haley Clark had eight points.
MOMENT OF SILENCE
There was a moment of silence before the game for the victims of Thursday's shooting on the South Carolina campus.
"I think it was probably best that we were on the road when that was going on," Staley said. "... Our hearts and prayers go out to everybody who was affected by what happened on our campus today."
No team has scored more than 63 points against the Gamecocks, and only two have shot over 40 percent from the field. Georgia didn't come close to either mark as it shot 21 percent (12 of 58).
"Our defense has gotten better each and every time we've stepped on the floor," Staley said.
South Carolina: Visits No. 2 Connecticut on Monday night.
Georgia: Visits Arkansas on Monday night.
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