South Carolina ousted from Final Four by Fighting Irish

uscwhoops-finalfourAfter trailing by as many as 12 points in the second half, an effort led by senior Aleighsa Welch willed No. 3/4 South Carolina back into the game. But No. 2/2 Notre Dame grabbed the lead with just 16 seconds to go, and the Gamecocks’ final shot was off the mark in a 66-65 decision in the national semifinals at Amalie Arena.

South Carolina struggled to find the basket out of the gate. Even added chances created by work on the offensive glass couldn’t help the Gamecocks find the net. While South Carolina got off to a slow start, Notre Dame took advantage as freshman Brianna Turner scored the Fighting Irish’s first six points on the way to a quick 15-3 advantage.

The Gamecocks tried to sway the momentum back their way out of the first media timeout, inserting Olivia Gaines, Bianca Cuevas and Alaina Coates, and shortly after, A’ja Wilson joined them on the court. Wilson blocked Kathryn Westbeld’s shot in the paint, and although Notre Dame retained possession, Gaines took it away. On the other end, Gaines and Wilson teamed up to find Coates for a tough shot in the paint. Cuevas continued the effort with layup and a drive to find Coates for another bucket in the lane. Wilson capped the two-minute run from the bench with a score to pull the Gamecocks to within four at 21-17 with 7:23 in the half.

The Fighting Irish missed nine straight shots, but turnovers plagued South Carolina and kept the Gamecocks from getting any closer. All-American Jewell Loyd broke the Notre Dame drought with a jumper to put her team on top 19-13 with 8:57 on the clock in the first half.

Steadily, the Gamecocks chipped away at the Notre Dame lead after getting the inside game going. By the 3:31 mark, South Carolina had pulled to within one at 25-24 after a Wilson score off an in-bounds play, but the Fighting Irish responded with seven unanswered points in just 60 seconds to push their lead back up to 32-24. The Gamecocks scored the last four points of the half and trailed by four at 32-38 at the break.

Just two and a half minutes into the second period, the Gamecocks tied the contest for the first time since the opening tip, thanks to a quick outlet pass from Coates to Tiffany Mitchell, who raced the length of the court to knot the game at 34-34. After the teams traded baskets on the next two possessions, Notre Dame scored six quick points to pull back ahead, 43-36, with 15:30 to go. After a South Carolina timeout, Notre Dame added a 3 from Michaela Mabrey to make the lead double digits again at 36-46.

South Carolina responded with an 8-0 run that took just over 90 seconds. First, Tina Roy found an open Coates on the block, then, Wilson took over. The freshman scored the game’s next six points to bring the Gamecocks to within two at 48-46 with 12:21 to play. Turner had an answer for Notre Dame with a three-point play.

Down 12 with 9:17 to play, Welch seized the moment and sparked the Gamecock comeback attempt. Cuevas hit the senior in the post, then, Welch went flying through the lane to put back a missed shot. Wilson found Welch on the next possession for her third-straight basket, and Mitchell drew the Gamecocks back within six at 58-64 with a pull-up jumper

.

With four minutes to go, Mitchell brought the Gamecocks to within four, somehow finding the basket despite falling down in the lane as she released. South Carolina forced another miss on the other end, and Gaines drew a foul on the rebound. After she hit one of the resulting free throws, Coates drew Turner’s fifth foul. Coates’ tough night at the line continued, though, as she missed two free throws, but Welch was there again to snatch the rebound. Wilson hit a bucket and an offensive foul disqualified Lindsey Allen just ahead of a South Carolina timeout with 1:32 to go.

Out of the timeout, Mitchell’s shot was off, but once more, Welch was there to give South Carolina its first lead of the night with just 1:12 to play. On the other end, Welch stole the ball from Loyd to give the Gamecocks a chance to add some insurance. Welch’s shot rimmed out after the timeout, and the Gamecocks forced another miss from Loyd, but Madison Cable grabbed the missed shot and went under the basket to hit her first shot of the night. The basket broke a nearly eight-minute Fighting Irish scoring drought to put Notre Dame back on top 66-65.

The Gamecocks called their final timeout with 13.9 seconds remaining to set up the contest’s final play, but Mitchell was unable to create a shot or find an open teammate, and her last-second heave was off the mark.

Welch grabbed a season-high 14 rebounds to lead all players and added 10 points to record her 24th career double-double. Wilson netted 20 points to lead the Gamecocks’ offensive effort. Coates and Mitchell also reached double figures, with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Both Coates and Wilson collected nine rebounds each as South Carolina out-rebounded Notre Dame 45-37.

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

Comments

comments

Chants return from exams to face tough hoops tests

Chants return from exams to face tough hoops testsAfter taking a week off for final exams, the Coastal [more]

Hoops: Strand teams turn up D to win by blowouts

Hoops: Strand teams turn up D to win by blowoutsThe Myrtle Beach High girls basketball team turned in a [more]

North Myrtle Beach boys, girls sweep rival Socastee

North Myrtle Beach boys, girls sweep rival SocasteeThe North Myrtle Beach High girls basketball team captured its [more]

Wrestling: MB tops Foxes; NMB sweeps quad match

Wrestling: MB tops Foxes; NMB sweeps quad matchThe Myrtle Beach High boys wrestling team captured a hard-fought [more]

Boys Hoops: Tigers hold off Seahawks; Sharks win

Boys Hoops: Tigers hold off Seahawks; Sharks winThe Myrtle Beach High boys basketball team took its best [more]

Girls Hoops: MB settles score with rivals; CF rolls

Girls Hoops: MB settles score with rivals; CF rollsThe Myrtle Beach High girls basketball team got a little [more]

Coastal's Adams named Sun Belt player of week

Coastal's Adams named Sun Belt player of weekCoastal Carolina senior guard Jas Adams has been named the [more]

Conway QB Grainger puts end to recruiting process

Conway QB Grainger puts end to recruiting processConway High quarterback D'Wuan Grainger entered his senior season as [more]

Carolina Forest boys rush past Northwood Academy

Carolina Forest boys rush past Northwood AcademyThe Carolina Forest boys basketball team claimed its second victory [more]

Panthers in playoff hunt; Quigley sticks with Vikes

Panthers in playoff hunt; Quigley sticks with VikesThe Carolina Panthers find themselves back in the thick of [more]

Hoops tip off, wrestling caps busy sports week

Hoops tip off, wrestling caps busy sports weekThe Grand Strand prep sports scene has a busy week [more]

CAC skirts snow, heats up Snowflake Invite podium

CAC skirts snow, heats up Snowflake Invite podiumThe Coastal Aquatic Club (CAC) dodged a snowy weekend in [more]

Riptides dash through the Blizzard Blitz competition

Riptides dash through the Blizzard Blitz competitionSeven Riptide swimmers traveled to Cary, NC, over weekend to [more]

North team extends streak of dominance over South

North team extends streak of dominance over SouthThe North squad extended its streak of dominance in the [more]

Myrtle Beach boys, girls blast past Carolina Forest

Myrtle Beach boys, girls blast past Carolina ForestThe Myrtle Beach High boys and girls basketball teams blew [more]

Gamecocks survive scare from Chants at the buzzer

Gamecocks survive scare from Chants at the buzzerFormer Gamecock-turned-Chanticleer Jaylen Shaw missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at [more]

Steele makes major splash at Winter Junior Nationals

Steele makes major splash at Winter Junior NationalsCarolina Forest senior and Coastal Aquatic Club swimmer Taylor Steele [more]

Tigers, Chiefs join forces on North-South gridiron

Tigers, Chiefs join forces on North-South gridironThe best local high school football matchup was never played [more]

Boys Hoops: Nichols leads Tigers; Braves beat Sharks

Boys Hoops: Nichols leads Tigers; Braves beat SharksConway High hoops standout Jimmy Nichols is off to an [more]

Moglia looks to Nebraska roots to hire DC Sanders

Moglia looks to Nebraska roots to hire DC SandersCoastal Carolina head coach Joe Moglia has named Marvin Sanders [more]

Girls Hoops: NMB caps big week by defeating Conway

Girls Hoops: NMB caps big week by defeating ConwayPay-back continued for the North Myrtle Beach High girls basketball [more]

Lady Chiefs turn up heat on defense to defeat WB

Lady Chiefs turn up heat on defense to defeat WBThe North Myrtle Beach High girls basketball team turned up [more]

Socastee comes out firing early to down Waccamaw

Socastee comes out firing early to down WaccamawThe Socastee High boys basketball team captured a big home [more]

CCU defensive coordinator Matthews calls it a career

CCU defensive coordinator Matthews calls it a careerCoastal Carolina defensive coordinator Mickey Matthews announced Thursday his retirement [more]

Chants rally past Pirates, face Gamecocks Saturday

Chants rally past Pirates, face Gamecocks SaturdayJaylen Shaw led four Chanticleers in double digits as Coastal [more]

Chants return from exams to face tough hoops tests

Chants return from exams to face tough hoops testsAfter taking a week off for final exams, the Coastal [more]

Hoops: Strand teams turn up D to win by blowouts

Hoops: Strand teams turn up D to win by blowoutsThe Myrtle Beach High girls basketball team turned in a [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2017 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach