😬 Player STOMPS, T’d Up After Foul Called On Her | SEC Tournament, Texas A&M vs #1 South Carolina

😬 Player STOMPS, T’d Up After Foul Called On Her | SEC Tournament, Texas A&M vs #1 South Carolina.

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Analysis: No. 1 South Carolina women’s basketball advances to SEC Tournament semifinals with win over Texas A&M

The No. 1 South Carolina women’s basketball team advanced to the semifinals of the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament with a 79-68 win over Texas A&M on Friday at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina.

The Gamecocks defeated the Aggies 99-64 in the teams’ most recent meeting on Jan. 21 in College Station, Texas.

Senior center Kamilla Cardoso led South Carolina in scoring with 17 points and added six rebounds, including five offensive boards. Cardoso was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and was the lone Gamecock named to the All-SEC First Team.

Turnovers plagued South Carolina throughout the game. The Gamecocks struggled to put up shots against the Aggies’ aggressive defense, as it turned the ball over 10 times in just the first quarter and 15 times in the whole first half. When these two teams played in January, South Carolina committed 14 turnovers for the entire game.

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“I don’t think it was necessarily them frustrating us. I feel like it was on us, but we just came back. We knew what we had to do,” sophomore forward Ashlyn Watkins said. “We knew we just had to win this game and came at it like we wanted to win.”

Despite South Carolina’s struggles in taking care of the basketball, the team showcased its depth with 13 points from the bench to help push its lead to 33-22 at halftime. The Gamecocks finished the game with 35 bench points compared to just 12 from Texas A&M.

Freshman guard Tessa Johnson scored 9 of South Carolina’s 13 first-half bench points. Johnson was aggressive throughout the game and attacked the basket. She was rewarded for her efforts in the paint with free throws, and she made all four of her attempts from the free throw line.

Johnson finished the game with 13 — three points short of her career high.

“I was just playing the game, and my teammates did what they had to do, and the ball found me and I just shot it,” Johnson said.

The Gamecocks’ offense was much-improved in the second half, as the team shot 60% from the floor and finished the game with 20 assists on 29 made field goals. The team still struggled with turnovers, however, finishing the game with a season-high 24 turnovers after turning the ball over nine more times over the third and fourth quarters.

“That was one of the keys — to move the ball. Granted, we did assist on 20 of our 29 baskets. We just couldn’t get enough of that because the turnovers got in the way,” head coach Dawn Staley said. “I like that about our team, but the 24 turnovers are killer. It didn’t shoot us in the foot as bad as it could. But, I will say, if we play like this in the semifinals, that will be our last game here in Greenville.”

The Gamecocks also out-rebounded the Aggies 40 to 28, and sophomore guard Raven Johnson tied Cardoso for the most rebounds on the team with six. Johnson also had 6 points and five assists in South Carolina’s victory, demonstrating her all-around ability on the court.

The Gamecocks got production from two more players who were recognized on the All-SEC Second Team — Watkins and senior guard Te-Hina Paopao. Watkins scored all 10 of her points in the second half and went a perfect 5-5 from the field, while Paopao went 2-4 from the behind the arc and scored 8 points.

South Carolina (30-0, 16-0 SEC) will face off against Tennessee (19-11, 10-6 SEC) in the SEC Tournament semifinals on Saturday. The game will tip off at 4:30 p.m. and be broadcast on ESPNU.

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