Home / News / No. 1 South Carolina wins SEC Tournament over No. 8 LSU in game marred by shootouts and ejections – Chicago Tribune

No. 1 South Carolina wins SEC Tournament over No. 8 LSU in game marred by shootouts and ejections – Chicago Tribune

GREENVILLE, S.C. — It was a Southeastern Conference Tournament celebration unlike any other in South Carolina history: Six docile players wearing white championship hats stood at the podium, while the rest of their teammates remained in the locker room.

“It was heartbreaking,” guard Te-Hina Paopao said after the Gamecocks’ 79-72 victory over No. 8 LSU was marred by a fourth-quarter tackle that led to the ejection of South Carolina’s leading scorer and rebounder Kamilla Cardoso. ” said.

Freshman MiLaysia Fulwiley, who was named tournament MVP, scored a career-high 24 points as South Carolina won its eighth tournament title in the last 10 seasons.

“We couldn’t have done this without them,” Paopao said, noting that he missed Cardoso, Chloe Kitts, Tessa Johnson and Sakima Walker during the typically cheerful post-game ceremony. “It was very difficult for us, just a lot of emotions. “We really wanted them to celebrate with us.”

Kitts, Johnson and Walker were ejected from the game for leaving the bench during the incident, and the incident was sparked with just over two minutes left when the 6-foot-10 Cardoso shoved LSU’s Flau’jae Johnson, 5-10, after an intentional foul.

Paopao said the entire group was celebrating behind the scenes.

“We are a team,” he said. “We will come back by learning from our mistakes.”

South Carolina (32-0) took a 73-66 lead when Fulwiley stole the ball from Johnson, Johnson wrapped himself and a foul was called. Johnson then hit South Carolina’s Ashlyn Watkins, and the 6-foot-10 Cardoso ran in and pushed the 5-10 Johnson to the ground. Players from both teams ran towards them.

Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley said Johnson came up to her after the game to apologize and told Staley, “I’m not that type of player.”

Staley also apologized on behalf of his program to the South Carolina fans who packed the arena all weekend.

Staley’s assessment of pollination?

“What you saw were two extremely competitive teams and they didn’t handle it well,” he said.

Staley said the penalties were appropriate and that he would spend time before the NCAA Tournament next week reminding his players not to get caught up in emotion during heated moments.

“People see that it’s part of our game now,” he continued. “We have to fix it.”

Cardoso also apologized on social media after the match. The SEC did not open its locker rooms to reporters.

“My behavior did not represent who I am as a person or the South Carolina program, and I deeply regret any inconvenience or inconvenience this may have caused. I take full responsibility for my actions,” he shared.

Cardoso and three teammates were ejected from the game. Aalyah Del Rosario and Janae Kent, two LSU players who logged minutes in the game and came off the bench, were also ejected. South Carolina has six players left and the Tigers have five.

Because of Cardoso’s actions, he can be expected to miss time in the NCAA Tournament. The Gamecocks enter March Madness as the clear No. 1 seed and the only undefeated team remaining in Division I, male or female. And they did it against the national champion Tigers and SEC player of the year Angel Reese.

It was South Carolina’s eighth tournament crown in the last 10 seasons and its 16th consecutive win over LSU (28-5), including all four meetings since Kim Mulkey became the Tigers’ coach three seasons ago.

The fast and flashy freshman, Fulwiley showed off in his first SEC Tournament and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. He made two 3-pointers as South Carolina used a 24-11 run between the first and second quarters to take the lead for good.

LSU reduced the 13-point lead to 67-66 with Johnson’s foul shots with 4:36 left in the game. But Raven Johnson followed with a basket and Bree Hall added two more baskets to extend the margin.

Aneesah Morrow led LSU with 19 points. Reese recorded his third consecutive double-double of the tournament with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Reese, who has failed to win in four attempts against South Carolina, including as a sophomore at Maryland, believes the reigning national champion Tigers are poised for another strong run in March Madness.

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