South Carolina dominates Notre Dame in Paris opener
PARIS (by Associated Press) — Dawn Staley could not have envisioned the flashy season-opening performance that new-look South Carolina put on to beat Notre Dame in the NCAA’s first women’s game in Paris.
Kamilla Cardoso had 20 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks and freshman MiLaysia Fulwiley had 17 points to lead the sixth-ranked Gamecocks to a 100-71 victory over the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish on Monday.
South Carolina lost seven seniors from last season, including the core that reached three straight Final Fours and won the 2022 national title: WNBA No. 1 overall draft pick Aliyah Boston, Zia Cooke and Brea Beal.
“It was really a blank canvas,” said Staley, who posed in front of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece “Mona Lisa” at the Louvre a few days before the game. “But the chemistry that they’re building is very special.”
Cardoso is a 6-foot-7 senior who came off the bench behind Boston the past two seasons. Now, she has the middle all to herself and was dominant for South Carolina, hitting nine of 14 shots for her 17th career double-double.
Fulwiley, recruited by Staley as a seventh-grader, is a jet-quick guard with dynamic moves that were on display in Paris. The freshman had a drive through Notre Dame’s defense where she put the ball behind her back, kept it and finished with a flip shot as South Carolina fans who flocked across the pond to watch the game went wild.
Even the great Magic Johnson was talking about the move on social media.
“That move made everybody notice,” said Fulwiley, who also had six assists and six steals. “I hope they keep watching.”
Hannah Hidalgo, a five-star freshman ranked as the fifth-best college prospect by ESPN.com, led Notre Dame with 31 points.
Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey said the game got away from her group in the second quarter.
“We’ll be OK,” Ivey said. “We’ll go back to the drawing board and will get better from this game.”
THE BIG PICTURE
South Carolina: The Gamecocks used defense and a relentless pace to do what they have done much of the last four seasons — wear down opponents. Notre Dame shot 50% and had just two turnovers the first 10 minutes. South Carolina clamped down in the second quarter, where the Irish were just 4-of-15 shooting with six turnovers.
- South Carolina opened the season against a ranked opponent for the fifth time under head coach Dawn Staley, improving its record in such games to 4-1.
- Senior center Kamilla Cardoso notched her first 20-point game as a Gamecock and just the fourth of her career. She pulled in 15 rebounds, the most for the program since she snagged 15 at Tennessee on Feb. 23, 2023.
- Five Gamecocks finished in double figures, including a pair of players off the bench in Fulwiley and Sania Feagin.
- Senior transfer Te-Hina Paopao was the steadying force early, scoring seven of her 14 points in the opening quarter on 3-of-4 shooting to go with two steals and two assists in the period.
- South Carolina’s 70 points in the paint are the most since the Gamecocks poured in 74 paint points against College of Charleston on Nov. 25, 2020.