UConn and South Carolina join Mis­sis­sippi State and Stan­ford.

Game­cocks women make Fi­nal Four, just as men’s team did

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Janie McCauley

stock­ton, calif.» Kaela Davis scored 23 points and A’ja Wil­son added 16 and topseeded South Carolina held off No. 3 seed Florida State 71-64 in a fu­ri­ous fin­ish Mon­day night to win the Stock­ton Re­gional.

Davis scored im­me­di­ately off the tip and again on a timely, bril­liant left-handed drive with 1:42 to go.

Al­lisha Gray drove her way to 11 points for South Carolina (31-4) — and Dawn Sta­ley’s Game­cocks are back in the Fi­nal Four for the first time since 2015 still chas­ing the pro­gram’s first NCAA cham­pi­onship.

Leti­cia Romero cut the South Carolina lead to five, 65-60, on a driv­ing jumper with 3:51 left. Then Brit­tany Brown’s steal and layup at 3:25 made it 65-62, but the Semi­noles wouldn’t get closer.

South Carolina has both bas­ket­ball teams in the Fi­nal Four. The men’s pro­gram reached its first Fi­nal Four with a stun­ning up­set of Florida on Sun­day that sent the women scream­ing in de­light at Stock­ton Arena all the way across the coun­try from the vic­tory at Madi­son Square Gar­den.

Af­ter the buzzer sounded, the Game­cocks hus­tled to­gether for a team hug, then danced at mid­court wear­ing T-shirts and hats.

Imani Wright’s bas­ket with 7:12 to play capped a 6-0 burst and pulled Florida State within 60-53, then Gray an­swered. Romero knocked down a 3 mo­ments later and it was a six-point game.

Tyasha Har­ris added 16 points for South Carolina, which made things un­com­fort­able all game for Florida State’s Span­ish star, Romero. She was limited to 6-for-23 shoot­ing for 16 points, six as­sists and six re­bounds as Florida State fell short once more of the pro­gram’s first Fi­nal Four.

Davis, daugh­ter of for­mer NBA player An­to­nio Davis, de­liv­ered all day on both ends. She shot 10 for 15 and is headed to her Fi­nal Four de­but on Fri­day against Stan­ford. She trans­ferred from Ge­or­gia Tech for the chance to do some­thing spe­cial.

Two power pro­grams from the South that scrim­maged to­gether the past two pre­sea­sons faced off way out West in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, a re­match of South Carolina’s six-point Elite Eight win against the Semi­noles two years ago in Greens­boro.

This one was plenty en­ter­tain­ing, too — from big plays to a fran­tic fi­nal few min­utes.

Af­ter Wright’s jumper at the 4:23 mark made it 30-27, South Carolina closed the half with a 10-2 spurt.

Gray made a pair of pretty drives to key a late sec­ond-quar­ter run dur­ing which South Carolina hit five of seven shots as the Semi­noles took a 40-29 lead into half­time.

Florida State guard Leti­cia Romero drives against South Carolina guard Kaela Davis dur­ing the first half Mon­day night in a re­gional fi­nal in Stock­ton, Calif. Davis scored 23 points as the Game­cocks won 71-64. Rich Pedroncelli, The As­so­ci­ated Press

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