DALLAS -- A'ja Wilson scored 23 points to help coach Dawn Staley and South Carolina win their first national championship with a 67-55 victory over Mississippi State on Sunday night. South Carolina (33-4) turned a 10-point halftime lead into a 45-31 advantage midway through the third quarter before the Bulldogs rallied. Mississippi State (34-5) slowly cut into its deficit, getting with 54-50 on Jazzmun Holmes' jumper. But that's as close as the Bulldogs could get. Wilson, who grew up in South Carolina, blocked a shot on one end of the court and then hit a short jumper in the lane that started a 12-2 run to put the game away. Staley emptied her bench with less then a minute left and Wilson left with tears of joy.
DALLAS - Propelled by junior forward A'ja Wilson's double-double and 13 second-half points junior guard Allisha Gray, No. 3/4 South Carolina rallied past No. 6/6 Stanford 62-53 Friday night at American Airlines Center to secure the program's first berth in the NCAA championship game. The top-seeded Gamecocks, who faced a double-digit deficit in the first half, improved to 32-4 with the historic victory in the national semifinal round. The Cardinal closed their 2016-17 campaign with a mark of 32-6 following the loss.
Friday's turning point came in the third quarter when Carolina outscored the Cardinal 21-8 during the 10-minute stretch to build a four-point cushion as the teams headed into the final break. Wilson's effort on the defensive end and the glass paced the Gamecocks, who held Stanford to just 4-of-17 shooting for the quarter. The junior standout tallied two blocks in the period to go with eight rebounds, three of which came on the offensive end. Carolina junior guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore capped her team's dominant quarter with five points and a key assist that kept momentum with the Gamecocks, who entered the period facing a nine-point deficit.
STOCKTON, Calif. - No. 3/4 South Carolina is headed back to the Final Four after topping No. 10/13 Florida State 71-64 in the Elite Eight Monday night at Stockton Arena. The victory secured the Gamecocks' second berth in the Final Four in three years and pushed their record to 31-4 on the season. The Seminoles concluded their season with a mark of 28-7 following the loss.
Four Carolina players finished in double figures, including junior guard Kaela Davis, who recorded her third-straight 20-point outing after finishing with a game-high 23. The Suwanee, Ga., native shot 10-of-15 from the floor for a Gamecock team that received 55 points from its backcourt. Freshman guard Tyasha Harris added a career-best 16 points and grabbed two crucial rebounds late in the contest for Carolina, which weathered a 15-5 fourth-quarter run by the Seminoles. Guard Allisha Gray scored nine of her 11 points in the first half, while fellow junior A'ja Wilson netted 16 points despite spending much of the night in foul trouble. Wilson recorded four blocks, two of which came during the crucial final 30 seconds of the game. Carolina's starters accounted for 69 of its 71 points, with sophomore guard Doniyah Cliney marking the only Gamecock to register a field goal off the bench.
STOCKTON, Calif. - Junior guard Kaela Davis poured in 28 points to propel top-seeded South Carolina to a dominant 100-58 victory over No. 12 seed Quinnipiac in the NCAA Sweet 16 Saturday afternoon at Stockton Arena. The win sends the No. 3/4 Gamecocks back to the Elite Eight for the second time in three years and moves their record to 30-4 on the season. The Bobcats end their 2016-17 campaign at 29-7 following their setback.
Davis was clinical from beyond the arc, connecting on five 3-pointers en route to her second-straight 20-point outing. The junior standout netted 15 of her 28 points in the third quarter and finished the contest 9-of-13 from the field. Gamecock junior forward A'ja Wilson added 24 points on 7-of-9 shooting and finished the game 10-of-10 from the line, while junior guard Allisha Gray tallied eight of her 19 points in the second quarter to help send Carolina into the half with an 18-point advantage. Freshman guard Araion Bradshaw added a career-best five assists off the bench for the Gamecocks, whose 100 points Saturday marked a season high. Their 18-of-19 performance from the charity stripe was their best ever under coach Dawn Staley.
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Led by 15 second-half points from junior guard Kaela Davis and a double-double from junior forward A'ja Wilson, No. 3/4 South Carolina rallied to earn a 71-68 win over Arizona State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday night at the Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks, who trailed by as many as 11 in the second half, advanced to their fourth-straight NCAA Sweet 16 and moved to 29-4 overall with the win. Arizona State ends the season at 20-13 following the loss.
After a 9-0 run by the Gamecocks handed Carolina a double-digit advantage with 5:51 to play, the Sun Devils fought back and scored the game's next 11 points to go ahead 68-67 with just over two minutes remaining. Wilson made sure the Gamecocks would not be denied, and the forward put her team back on top after following her own shot and converting a layup to make it 69-68 Carolina with 48 seconds left. Davis delivered the next big play, coming up with a steal to preserve the lead and give the ball back to the Gamecocks with 18 seconds to play. Arizona State fouled Wilson on the ensuing in-bounds play, and the junior calmly knocked down a pair of free throws to stretch the lead to 71-68. Davis again came up clutch on the defensive end and sealed the victory after contesting a Sun Devil 3-pointer that rimmed out as time expired.
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Junior guard Allisha Gray's first career double-double and 18-point efforts from junior forward A'ja Wilson and junior guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore lifted No. 4/4 South Carolina to a 90-40 victory over UNC Asheville in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament Friday night at Colonial Life Arena. The win advanced the top-seeded Gamecocks to the second round for the sixth-straight year and improved Carolina's mark to 28-4 on the season. The Bulldogs end their 2016-17 campaign at 19-15 following the loss.
Gray played big throughout the contest and finished the game with 22 points on 11-of-13 shooting to go with a career-high 12 rebounds. The junior grabbed seven offensive boards and delivered several put-back buckets to set the tone for the Gamecocks, who used a pair of double-digit runs in the second quarter to build a 26-point halftime lead. Cuevas-Moore's play on the defensive end sparked the dominant stretch in the period, and the junior ended the game with a game-high four steals in addition to her 8-of-10 shooting performance. Wilson scored 12 of her 18 points in the first half and made four of her five free throws, while freshman forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan netted eight fourth-quarter points and totaled 14 on the night to round out the list of Gamecocks to reach double figures.