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Gamecocks Face Border Battle in Women's Final Four
Women's Basketball  . 

Gamecocks Face Border Battle in Women's Final Four

No. 1/1 South Carolina is set for its fourth-straight NCAA Final Four appearance where it will face No. 11/11 NC State on Fri., April 5, at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

The NC State Series
The Gamecocks are 12-20 all-time against the Wolfpack, but are 4-2 in the Dawn Staley era (beginning 2008-09 season). Three of those wins came early in her tenure (2008-09 through 2010-11).

The teams split the last home-and-home series they played with each winning on the other’s court. Then-No. 8 NC State upset then-No. 1 South Carolina 54-46 on Dec. 3, 2020, in what was the Gamecocks’ last home loss.

The following season, then-No. 1 South Carolina opened the season at then-No. 5 NC State, posting a 66-57 win on Nov. 9, 2022.

Gamecock Notables

  • Dawn Staley picked up her fourth Naismith Coach of the Year award on Wednesday, becoming the first men’s or women’s coach to claim the honor in three straight seasons.

  • South Carolina’s 38.8 bench points per NCAA Tournament game leads the event. The Gamecock bench as outscored its counterparts by 32.8 points per game in the tournament.

  • Fourth in the nation this season in rebounding average (46.2), the Gamecocks lead the NCAA Tournament with 45.3 rebounds per game. In addition to the usual top two rebounders – Cardoso (8.7 rpg), Watkins (7.3 rpg) – Sania Feagin has added 6.5 boards per game in the tournament, up from her season average of 3.8.

  • Nine Gamecocks average at least 7.3 points in the NCAA Tournament.

  • With 11 blocks in the NCAA Tournament so far, Ashlyn Watkins moved into fifth place in the program’s single-season blocks standings (88).

  • Kamilla Cardoso was named Albany 1 Regional MOP after posting 17.0 points on 64.0 percent shooting to lead the Gamecocks back to the Final Four.

  • Raven Johnson picked up Albany 1 Regional All-Tournament honors behind 8.5 points and 6.0 assists per game over the weekend, including a clutch 3 with a two-point lead in the final minutes of the Sweet 16 game and her only 3 of the Elite 8 game that launched a 15-5 run that closed the third quarter.

  • Freshman Tessa Johnson entered the NCAA Tournament averaging 5.9 points but has added 8.3 points per game over her four games at the event, including 11.0 ppg in the Albany 1 Regional games

A Perennial Power
South Carolina women’s basketball had been a national power for more than a decade under head coach Dawn Staley,  including seven 30-win seasons in the last 10 campaigns. The Gamecocks have played in six Final Fours in the last nine NCAA Tournaments, including the last four, with National Championships in 2017 and 2022. They have been ranked in every AP Poll since Dec. 10, 2012, including a top-10 spot every week since the start of the 2019-20 season. The Gamecocks have amassed 82 AP No. 1 rankings all-time,  the fourth-most by a program in the history of that poll (3rd is La. Tech, 83).

Under head coach Dawn Staley’s leadership, 11 Gamecocks have earned All-America status, three have earned SEC Player of the Year honors and 22 have picked up All-SEC recognition at least once. In the last nine seasons, 14 Gamecocks have been selected in the WNBA Draft, including 10 first-round picks, highlighted by two No. 1 overall picks in the last six years. Three Gamecocks have been named WNBA Rookie of the Year and one is a two-time WNBA MVP and two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year.


Awards Season
South Carolina picked up eight recognitions when the SEC coaches’ votes were tallied for postseason awards with seven-time SEC Coach of the Year Dawn Staley and SEC Defensive Player of the Year Kamilla Cardoso headlining the list. Cardoso was the lone Gamecock on the All-SEC First Team, but a trio of second-team selections – Raven Johnson, Te-Hina Paopao, Ashlyn Watkins – made it a program-record tying All-SEC haul. MiLaysia Fulwiley rounded out the group with All-Freshman honors.

Nationally, Cardoso and Paopao have collected numerous All-America accolades with Cardoso becoming the Gamecocks’ first WBCA Defensive Player of the Year. Staley, meanwhile, has swept the National Coach of the Year awards announced.

Glass Cleaners
The Gamecocks continue to dominate the glass, ranking fourth in the nation with 46.2 rebounds per game. According to Her Hoop Stats, South Carolina is fourth in the nation in rebounding percentage, securing 57.6 percent of the opportunities actually rebounded.

Their offensive glass work is strong, ranking fifth in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage at .405 (Her Hoop Stats). The Gamecocks’ 14.5 offensive boards per game have yielded 15.7 second-chance points per game, turning each offensive board into an average of 1.08 points. Against ranked opponents, that efficiency improves to 1.25 points per offensive board.

A pair of Gamecocks are among the SEC’s top-15 rebounders, led by Kamilla Cardoso’s 9.4 average, which ranks sixth in the SEC. Ashlyn Watkins stands 12th in the league with 7.1 rebounds per game.

Cardoso’s 3.6 offensive boards per game are third in the SEC, and she scores on 40.2 percent of those rebounds. Her 4.1 offensive boards per league game also ranked third. Watkins grabs 2.7 offensive boards per game (9th), including 2.6 per SEC outing (10th).