Dawn Staley Interview, Reaches Final 4 | NCAA Tournament Elite 8, South Carolina vs Oregon State

For the fourth consecutive season, South Carolina is in the Women’s Final Four. The No. 1 seed Gamecocks improved their season record to 36–0 and returned to the national semifinals with a 70-58 victory over No. 3 Oregon State, who provided a tough matchup to the end.

This is the sixth Final Four for Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley, who has led South Carolina to all of the program’s national semifinal appearances during her 16 seasons in Columbia. Staley also made it to three national semifinals during her playing career at Virginia.

“That’s our team they’re resilient,” Staley told ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “They deserve it. They worked extremely hard to be where we are. I’m super proud of them.”

South Carolina took a 37-34 lead into halftime despite shooting only 2-for-12 from 3-point range. However, 13 offensive rebounds contributed to 18 second-chance points to make up for the lack of outside shooting. That dominance on the boards continued in the second half, leading to 22 offensive rebounds and 25 second-chance points overall.

Freshman guard Tessa Johnson led the SEC champions with 15 points, while senior Kamilla Cardoso added 12 points and nine rebounds. However, Ashlyn Watkins may have been the difference in the game with her defensive effort. The sophomore forward grabbed 14 rebounds with four blocks to go with her eight points.

The Beavers were handcuffed by foul trouble in the first half with Timea Gardiner compiling three fouls with four minutes remaining in the second quarter. Raegan Beers also got her third just before halftime, putting Oregon State in a difficult position on defense.

However, neither player fouled out of the game and still made an impact. Beers led all scorers with 16 points, adding eight rebounds. Gardiner nabbed 12 rebounds to go with her 10 points.

South Carolina awaits the winner of Sunday’s NC State-Texas matchup in the Final Four, which will begin on Friday in Cleveland.

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