South Carolina Basketball: 3 thumbs up, 3 thumbs down from Elite Eight win over OSU

South Carolina basketball outlasted Oregon State in a physical Elite Eight battle, earning yet another trip to the Final Four.

South Carolina basketball forward Ashlyn Watkins "stealing" a block opportunity from guard MiLaysia Fulwiley in the Gamecocks' win over the Oregon State Beavers
South Carolina basketball forward Ashlyn Watkins "stealing" a block opportunity from guard MiLaysia Fulwiley in the Gamecocks' win over the Oregon State Beavers / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina Basketball vs. Oregon State Beavers
Thumbs Up 1: Final Four-Bound

Frankly, no matter how a team gets there, a Final Four berth is a big deal.

Even though the Gamecocks have made four trips to the Final Four over the past four seasons, making it all the way to the national semifinal is impressive and worth celebrating.

South Carolina basketball has a chance at history with two more victories. Only four programs (UConn, Texas, Tennessee, and Baylor) have gone undefeated in women's college basketball history, and the Gamecocks are just two wins from matching that feat. UConn, Tennessee, Baylor, and Stanford are the only teams to win at least three national titles, as well, a number that Dawn Staley's team would equal with another trophy.

The Final Four will be played in Cleveland, Ohio and will begin on Friday.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Oregon State Beavers
Thumbs Up 2: Bench Production

Just two games ago, the Gamecocks outscored the North Carolina Tar Heels with just their bench as USC's reserves scored 51 points in the NCAA Tournament 2nd round thrashing of their border rival. Sunday's game was not the same type of bench production, but it was impressive, nonetheless.

Ashlyn Watkins came off the bench for the first time during this edition of March Madness, and she looked more comfortable. Her energy level was impossibly high, and she was everywhere on the floor. #2 led both teams in rebounds (14) and blocks (4), and though she only had 1 steals, she seemed to be in almost every low-post passing lane as she tipped away many entry passes.

Tessa Johnson got a lot of minutes in the 2nd half. she scored 12 of her 15 points after halftime, including some clutch free throws to ice the game and several impressive shots that allowed Carolina to hold their lead whenever Oregon State threatened.

Sania Feagin and MiLaysia Fulwiley had some good moments, as well, and all four bench players who got into the game scored at least 7 points.

South Carolina Basketball vs. Oregon State Beavers
Thumbs Up 3: Doing the "Little Things"

The win over Oregon State did not contain a dominant individual effort or a dynamic shooting performance from the Gamecocks. Utter domination was not present, and nothing in the offensive performance screamed "excellent basketball."

However, Dawn Staley's team did a lot of the "little things" correctly to advance to another Final Four. They rebounded well (51-37), did not give the ball away (just 6 turnovers), and they made adjustments.

Not only did they win the rebounding battle, but Carolina owned the offensive glass, pulling down 22 of their own misses. The Gamecocks scored a ridiculous 28 points off of those 2nd chances.

USC held onto the basketball, and in their 6 turnovers, only 3 were live ball turnovers, and OSU was able to score just 2 points off of those giveaways.

When Oregon State seemed as if they might explode from behind the 3-point arc (they made 6 in the 1st half, including 4 quick ones in the 2nd), the defense adjusted and held OSU to just two more makes from outside for the rest of the game.