Sessions’ clutch free throw keeps Gamecocks perfect

uscwhoops-5ftComing through a hectic final 20 seconds, No. 2 South Carolina (17-0, 5-0 SEC) posted an electrifying win over No. 15/11 Texas A&M 59-58 Sunday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena. Both teams struggled from the free throw line in the waning seconds, but Gamecock senior and former Myrtle Beach High standout Khadijah Sessions delivered the win moments after a dramatic Aggie layup tied the game.

South Carolina sophomore A’ja Wilson dominated much of the contest, posting 26 points and eight blocked shots for the second time in as many games to help the Gamecocks to their third-straight win over a ranked opponent. Sessions finished with eight points, four steals, and two rebounds and assists. Coates may have struggled offensively, but dominated the glass, pulling in a game-high 11 rebounds. Mitchell scored 11 to go along with four steals and two assists.

After Wilson gave the Gamecocks a four-point lead, 57-53, with 1:16 to play, the teams traded turnovers, leading to Courtney Walker’s two free throws with 20 second to play. Down two and needing the ball, the Aggies sent the Gamecocks to the free throw line, where they initially could not put the game away. Texas A&M secured the defensive rebound on the second miss, and Jordan Jones looked to convert quickly but was fouled on the way to the basket. At the line with 4.5 seconds to play, the Aggies’ senior guard missed the first but converted the second to make it a 57-56 Gamecock lead.

Again the Gamecocks went to the free throw line, where Sessions hit the second of her two attempts with 3.4 second to go. Neither team had a timeout for the final play, but the Aggies went to Taylor Cooper who launched a pass from the baseline to hit Chelsea Jennings in stride at the Texas A&M free throw line for a layup to tie the game with 0.9 seconds on the clock. The Gamecocks got the ball inbounds quickly to Sessions, who was immediately fouled before any time came off the clock. Sessions again missed the first free throw, but hit the second to give the Gamecocks a 59-58 lead. The Aggies looked for one more bit of magic with a long pass from the baseline, but Tiffany Mitchell intercepted it to close out the victory.

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

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