South Carolina advances to the Final Four with victory vs. Oregon State, undefeated season continues

ALBANY, NY – Guard Raven Johnson was at midcourt dribbling the game clock down, seemingly the only Gamecock who had not yet begun celebrating South Carolina’s 70-58 victory over Oregon State.

Bree Hall and Tessa Johnson hugged each other and jumped in unison. The coaches hugged and huddled on the bench. Finally, the buzzer rang and South Carolina was finally able to relax as it punched its ticket to its fourth straight Final Four and its sixth under coach Dawn Staley.

It was another balanced performance by the Gamecocks with absolute dominance in the paint, the hallmark of this undefeated season for South Carolina. Behind the performances of the region’s most outstanding player, Kamilla Cardoso (12 points, nine rebounds) and Ashlyn Watkins (14 rebounds and eight points), the Gamecocks outscored the Beavers 44-14 in the paint, including 28 points from second opportunity. With Oregon State bigs Raegan Beers (6-4) and Timea Gardiner (6-3) in early foul trouble (the duo committed three fouls each in the first half), the Gamecocks were able to build a strong lead from the which Oregon State was. I never could completely get over it.

The game opened up for the Gamecocks in the third quarter when they went on a 14-2 run and clamped down on defense, holding the Beavers scoreless for more than four minutes to stretch the lead to as many as 14 points by the end of the third. An early fourth-quarter run by Oregon State allowed the Beavers to cut South Carolina’s lead to four, but the Gamecocks continued to respond and rack up multiple stops as Johnson scored seven of his team’s 15 points.

The win over the Beavers was a good test for the Gamecocks in containing late opponent runs. On Friday, in a Sweet 16 game against Indiana, after leading by as many as 22 points, the Gamecocks had to hold off the Hoosiers’ runs in the second half.

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(Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)