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Cardoso leads No. 1 South Carolina to 79-68 victory over Texas A&M in SEC Tournament
Women's Basketball  . 

Cardoso leads No. 1 South Carolina to 79-68 victory over Texas A&M in SEC Tournament

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Kamilla Cardoso scored 17 points and Tessa Johnson 13 as No. 1 South Carolina overcame a slow start to the postseason to beat ninth-seeded Texas A&M 79-68 Friday at the SEC Tournament and reach 30 wins for a third straight season.

The Gamecocks (30-0) will play either fourth-seed Alabama or fifth-seed Tennessee in Saturday’s semifinals.

Aicha Coulibaly had a career-high 32 points, 26 in the second half, to lead Texas A&M (19-12), which lost its fifth straight to South Carolina.

It was no walkover for usually sharp South Carolina. The team had 10 turnovers in the first quarter and finished with a season-worst 24. The offense took a bit to warm up after nearly a week off since its last game, and coach Dawn Staley grew visibly frustrated as the period wore on.

But soon, Cardoso was dominating the Aggies down low. The Gamecocks relied on their defense to open up a 14-point lead in the third quarter.

South Carolina leads the SEC in defense and held the Aggies to 30% on 3-pointers (6 of 20) and forced 14 turnovers.

The Aggies briefly pulled ahead 17-16 on Lauren Ware’s jumper. But behind Johnson’s seven points, South Carolina went on a 17-5 run for a 33-22 lead at the break.

The Aggies came within 62-53 early in the fourth quarter, but Cardoso hit two free throws and Te-Hina Paopao made a 3-pointer to restore the large lead.

  • All 10 Gamecocks made an appearance in the game, with nine scoring at least five points.
  • South Carolina turned things up in the third quarter, shooting 78.6 percent from the field (11-for-14).
  • Tessa Johnson had a big first half, posting her first career block while adding seven of her 13 points in a 12-2 run by South Carolina that broke open a 17-17 tie.
  • Kamilla Cardoso led the team in scoring for the 11th time this season with 17 points, scoring eight of them in the third quarter as part of a 12-7 run by the Gamecocks.
  • Ashlyn Watkins had her 25th career game in double figures, scoring eight of her 10 points on 4–for-4 shooting in the third period.
  • Raven Johnson went a perfect 3-for-3 from the field, grabbing a team-high six boards and dishing out five assists to lead the team for the 18th time this season.
  • Chloe Kitts dropped in the first bucket of the game, then gave the Gamecocks their largest lead of the day at 18 with her last with four minutes left in the final quarter.