Fast Break Points: Kamilla Cardoso saves South Carolina’s undefeated season, USC outduels UCLA in 2OT thriller

Conference tournaments across the country are beginning to wrap up, and while the major conferences didn’t have any surprise winners, the first two weeks of March gave us all sorts of drama.

The Pac-12, at least this version of it, went out with a bang with a tournament that saw two games go into double overtime. USC won the title game after a statement win over Stanford, the most successful program in Pac-12 history.

But to even get to the final, The Trojans had to survive two extra periods against UCLA in the semifinals, the easy pick for our game of the week.

South Carolina won the SEC Women’s Tournament, but it was almost upset by Tennessee in the semifinals. The title game against LSU didn’t go smoothly either, as it was delayed 20 minutes after a scuffle led to both benches clearing and several ejections.

Nevertheless, the Gamecocks have locked in the No. 1 overall seed for this year’s NCAA Women’s Tournament. This was a highly competitive season, so all the other teams will have to wait until selection Sunday to find out where they stand in the field of 68.

Here are some of the biggest moments and storylines from the past week.

Bucket of the week: Kamilla Cardoso, South Carolina

The South Carolina senior center had never hit a 3-pointer in her career, but her very first helped the Gamecocks win a tight SEC Women’s Tournament semifinal game against Tennessee.

Assist of the week: Ashley Jackson, Duke

The Blue Devils almost pulled off the upset against NC State during the ACC Women’s Tournament quarterfinals. Although they fell a few points short in a 54-51 loss, their effort was applaudable, and Ashley Jackson delivered this nifty assist to Camilla Emsbo.

Stop of the week: Gabbie Marshall, Iowa

The Hawkeyes survived an upset scare during the Big Ten championship game against Nebraska. The game went into overtime, and Iowa had a slight 91-87 lead with 30 seconds remaining.

The Huskers were on the attack, but Gabbie Marshall came up with a huge block to kill the momentum that could’ve led to a comeback.

Game of the week: USC vs. UCLA

The Battle of Los Angeles in the Pac-12 Women’s Tournament semifinals came down to double overtime, was tied 11 times and had nine lead changes. USC freshman JuJu Watkins led all scorers with 33 points and completed her seventh career double-double with 10 rebounds. However, it took a full team effort to stop the Bruins.

UCLA was up four with 57 seconds remaining in the first overtime. Watkins added a point from the free throw line and McKenzie Forbes hit the 3-pointer that tied the game with 50 seconds left.

UCLA had plenty of time to regain the lead but the USC defense did its job, and Kaitlyn Davis came up with a huge block with 20 seconds left to push the game to double overtime.

Davis then got the scoring going with the first bucket of the second overtime. The Trojans never gave up the lead after that.

SEC title game marred by brawl

Several players were ejected late in the fourth quarter of the SEC championship game between South Carolina and LSU. The Gamecocks were up 73-66 with about two minutes remaining when MiLaysia Fulwiley stole the ball from LSU guard Flau’jae Johnson. ưJohnson grabbed Fulwiley in frustration, but the South Carolina freshman walked away. Fulwiley’s teammate, Ashlyn Watkins, then approached Johnson and was pushed away.

South Carolina star Kamilla Cardoso ran to the group and shoved Johnson to the ground, which cleared the benches. Johnson’s brother was nearby when it all happened, and he jumped over the scorer’s table and got onto the court. This led to him being arrested by the Greenville Police Department. Click here for a full explainer of the situation.

The last Pac-12 final as we know it

10 of the Pac-12’s 12 teams are leaving the conference next season, which means the 2024 Pac-12 final was the last game of the conference as we know it. USC claimed the title with a 74-61 win over Stanford, serving as a full-circle moment for Trojans coach Lindsay Gottlieb.

After the game, Gottlieb spoke to CBS Sports and explained that the very first Pac-12 game she ever coached was against Tara VanDerveer almost 20 years ago.

“It is meaningful to me to get the championship in the last one, in this iteration of what it looks like,” Gottlieb said. ” … I don’t know that I’d be in coaching if it wasn’t for Tara and people like her who did it when there was no money and none of this. They paved the way for us.”

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