South Carolina Basketball: Breaking down the fallout from USC-LSU "fight"

South Carolina basketball got into a bit of a "fight" with LSU during the SEC Tournament championship game. What is the fallout moving forward?

South Carolina basketball star Kamilla Cardoso
South Carolina basketball star Kamilla Cardoso / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK
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The SEC Tournament championship game was on Sunday, and what should have been a day about two of the top-5 national championship contenders facing off on a neutral floor ended up being about something much different. South Carolina basketball fans and LSU Tigers fans watched a very physical game get out of hand several times with very little effort from the officials to correct the issues. Eventually, frustrations bubbled over and a melee broke out on the court.

With the Gamecocks close to putting the game out of hand (leading by 7 with the ball and just 2 minutes remaining), MiLaysia Fulwiley was intentionally fouled by Flau'jae Johnson as Johnson grabbed Fulwiley by the shorts and then by the waist and arm as she spun her around. Smelling victory near, the Gamecocks celebrated with Fulwiley, but Johnson didn't like that she was near the celebration and shoved Ashlyn Watkins.

Gamecock center Kamilla Cardoso (who had been the victim of multiple dirty plays from Angel Reese earlier in the game, including a flagrant foul and then an uncalled hair pull incident) came charging in and shoved Johnson to the floor. A brief fracus broke out on the floor, but nothing else major took place. However, Johnson's brother leapt out of the stands onto the floor to confront Cardoso, and he and several other LSU fans were escorted out in handcuffs.

You can watch the incident below.

After a 20 minute review, Cardoso was ejected for "fighting" (a different penalty than a flagrant-2 ejection), and almost every player from both benches was ejected after leaving the bench area. Johnson somehow was not penalized after the initial foul.

In the end, Cardoso, Chloe Kitts Sakima Walker, and Tessa Johnson were ejected for the Gamecocks, and all available bench players were ejected for LSU.

Because Cardoso was ejected with a "fighting disqualification" label attached, she will suspended for South Carolina basketball's first round NCAA Tournament game. Technically, all of the other players ejected for leaving the bench area could also be suspended, but that won't happen.

The Gamecocks held on to win, bringing home their 8th SEC Tournament title in 10 seasons.

After the game, Coach Dawn Staley apologized for what transpired three different times. LSU head coach Kim Mulkey, on the other hand, elected to take the low road. Mulkey angrily said that Cardoso should have pushed a bigger player like Angel Reese so that the fight would be more fair.

Dawn Staley: "What you saw were two highly competitive teams trying to win a conference championship. And they did not handle it well. Our players didn’t, their players didn’t. I’ll take responsibility for what happened for our side of it."

Kim Mulkey: "I wish she would have pushed Angel Reese. Don't push a kid...you're 6'8". Don't push somebody that little. That was uncalled for, in my opinion. Let those two girls that were jawing, let them go at it."

The contrast between the two coaches' responses speaks volumes.

Cardoso also has apologized her role in the incident.

With the Gamecocks destined for the top-overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, their first round game will be against a team they will manhandle even without Kamilla Cardoso. Based on previous instances of Cardoso being out, fans can expect Ashlyn Watkins to start and for Sania Feagin and Sakima Walker to have increased bench roles in support of Watkins and Chloe Kitts in the frontcourt.

Next. South Carolina Basketball: Watch Kamilla Cardoso's buzzer-beater to beat Tennessee. South Carolina Basketball: Watch Kamilla Cardoso's buzzer-beater to beat Tennessee. dark