South Carolina Basketball: Gamecock star racks up national and SEC awards

South Carolina basketball star Kamilla Cardoso just got back from Olympic qualifying in Brazil and has already picked up awards for her first games back.

South Carolina basketball post player Kamilla Cardoso
South Carolina basketball post player Kamilla Cardoso / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Kamilla Cardoso missed South Carolina basketball's matchups against Missouri and UConn two weeks ago to play in Olympic qualifying for her home country of Brazil. After the tournament and the difficult travel schedule, Cardoso returned to the team last week with a needed minutes restriction.

That minutes restriction was forgotten as the Gamecocks needed #10 to be a dominant force in two closer-than-expected SEC matchups.

On the road win over a good Tennessee Volunteers team in an offensively-challenged contest, Cardoso led the way with 18 points (on 8-15 shooting) and 10 rebounds, picking up her 11th double-double of the season. She also chipped in 3 assists and 3 blocks.

She was even better in her team's victory against the Georgia Bulldogs. In another lower-scoring affair, Cardoso scored 16 points (on 5-10 shooting), snatched 16 rebounds (good for her 12th double-double), dished out 5 assists, had 3 blocks, and stole the ball 3 times. She led the team in all five categories and was the only player who had a prayer of slowing down the red-hot Javyn Nicholson. She played 16 of her 26 minutes in the 2nd half, and it was no coincidence that Nichols went just 3-10 from the floor after halftime.

For her dominant efforts, Kamilla Cardoso was rewarded with some weekly honors. The Naismith Awards Foundation named her the Naismith National Player of the Week, the NCBWA named her the National Player of the Week, and the SEC selected her as the conference's Co-Player of the Week (shared with Ole Miss' Madison Scott).

Cardoso earned those awards with her strong performances. Though both games ended up as double-digit triumphs for Dawn Staley's team, the Gamecocks were trailing in the 3rd quarter against both Tennessee and Georgia. Without the heroics of their starting center, South Carolina basketball might not have set the all-time SEC regular season wins record by winning their 43rd consecutive SEC game.

Cardoso and the Gamecocks will have the chance to clinch the SEC title this week when they play Alabama on Thursday night at Colonial Life Arena. The game will be broadcast at 7:00 on the SEC Network.

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