PERFECT! South Carolina women's basketball wins national title!

On3 imageby:Chris Wellbaum04/07/24


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“You’ll see/I promise we’ll be/perfect” – The Smashing Pumpkins

Tessa Johnson scored a career-high 19 points and Kamilla Cardoso had 15 points and 17 rebounds to lead South Carolina to the national championship. With the 87-75 win over Iowa, the Gamecocks became just the 10th undefeated team in NCAA history and avenged last season’s Final Four loss to Iowa.

Iowa began the game on a 10-0 run and led 20-9 midway through the first quarter. South Carolina was playing undisciplined and overaggressive defense, fouling Iowa’s jumpshooters.

South Carolina chipped away at the lead but still trailed 27-20 after the first quarter and Caitlin Clark had 18 points. 

All season, South Carolina has dominated the second and third quarters, relying on a deep and versatile bench to answer the opponent’s early efforts. South Carolina  scored the first seven points of the second quarter to tie the game, and then took its first lead on a layup by KAmilla Cardoso with 4:56 left in the half. 

The teams traded the lead, and Iowa went up two with less than a minute to play. But Te-Hina Paopao hit and open three, and then Raven Johnson picked Clark’s pocket for an easy layup and a 49-46 halftime lead.

Chloe Kitts made back-to-back baskets to start the third quarter, and Paopao added another jumper to make it an 11-0 run and force an Iowa timeout.

Iowa cut it to two on a layup by Clark, but then Tessa Johnson and Bree Hall hit back-to-back threes as part of an 8-0 run that gave South Carolina its first double-digit lead of the game, 65-55.

South Carolina led by as much as 14 in the fourth quarter, but a couple of freshman mistakes by MiLaysia Fulwiley helped set up an 8-0 Iowa run that saw Gabbie Marshall and Clark hit threes.

Clinging to a five-point lead, Paopao was fouled on a layup and made one free throw. Then Kamilla Cardoso made a tough second-chance layup.

With Iowa running on fumes, Clark launched and missed a 40-foot shot.Ashlyn Watkins drew a foul, hitting 1-2 free throws, and with a nine-point lead and less than two minutes to play, the Gamecocks could taste it.

This is a developing story. Stay with GamecockCentral for continuing coverage…

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