South Carolina Basketball: Gamecocks' NCAA Tournament march continues with close win over Indiana

South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley and her team avenged their last double-digit loss (in the 2019-2020 season) by beating Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen

South Carolina basketball guard Raven Johnson defending against Indiana
South Carolina basketball guard Raven Johnson defending against Indiana / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina basketball dominated Presbyterian and North Carolina in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament to make their 10th straight Sweet Sixteen. Awaiting them was the last team to beat the Gamecocks by double-digits, the Indiana Hoosiers.

The game began with a Kamilla Cardoso tip win for the Gamecocks, and Bree Hall kicked off the scoring with a quick 3-pointer. The Carolina lead was 8-2 100 seconds into the game as Te-Hina Paopao added a deep ball, and Kamilla Cardoso made scoring on All-American Mackenzie Holmes look easy.

Yarden Garzon made an outside shot of her own, and Holmes got two free throws to fall to make the score 10-7, and the USC offense went stagnant until the media timeout. With 3 turnovers and 0 points in a 3 1/2 minute stretch, Sania Feagin snapped the skid with 2 free tree throws.

Sydney Parrish tied the game with a 3-ball, but Bree Hall took it back with an answer from the corner. Chloe Kitts and Raven Johnson followed with scores, and in the blink of an eye, Dawn Staley's team had gone on an 8-0 run. After another moment, a wonderful hustle play saw the 6'7" Cardoso dive to the floor and earn an extra score for her team. When the quarter ended a minute later, the USC run had grown to 14-3 to make the score 26-15.

The 2nd quarter started with the Gamecocks missing their first 4 shots. Indiana took advantage of the shooting slump, cutting the USC lead to just 6 points. Tessa Johnson hit a jumper to end the skid, and Kamilla Cardoso made barbecue chicken out of Mackenzie Holmes in the post for about the 4th time in the game's 1st half.

Indiana made 5 shots in a row during that stretch, so when the media timeout came, Carolina's 13-point lead had shrunk to 8. After the break, Chloe Kitts made that 11 as she converted on an and-one. Raven Johnson followed with a tough paint score, but Yarden Garzon made a tough shot to answer.

As the 1st half came to a close, the Gamecocks' lead ballooned to 17 as Kamilla Cardoso, Bree Hall, and MiLaysia Fulwiley scored 8 points in the final 2 minutes. They led 49-32 heading into the locker room.

Carolina started the 2nd half attacking the paint as Ashlyn Watkins and Kamilla Cardoso scored down low. After Sara Scalia made a tough shot, Raven Johnson canned another outside jumper to go up by 22. Cardoso and Mackenzie Holmes each scored, and then an outside barrage began.

Raven Johnson and Te-Hina Paopao made perimeter jumpers for South Carolina, and Yarden Garzon (a 4-point play) and Sydney Parrish (2x) hit shots for Indiana. In just over 5 minutes of action, the Hoosiers had scored 16 points in the 3rd quarter after scoring 15 and 17 in the 1st and 2nd periods, respectively.

A 10-point run from IU brought the score to 61-50, but Te-Hina Paopao ended the run with a tough bucket in the paint. Chloe Moore-McNeil scored 5 straight for the Hoosiers to close the quarter and make the score 65-55.

Indiana's strong play continued in the early goings of the 4th quarter with Mackenzie Holmes' first make against Cardoso on the day. Then, Sydney Parrish cashed in another 3-pointer to cut the USC lead to just 5 points. The basket marked Indiana's second 10-0 run and the 11th 3 for the Hoosiers.

Kamilla Cardoso scored on Holmes on one end, but Yarden Garzon got a jumper to keep the margin at 5. Tessa Johnson broke down the defense with a nice dribble-drive layup, and Kamilla Cardoso made 1 of 2 foul shots after a Holmes foul. The Gamecocks led 70-62 with 4:50 remaining.

Another Parrish 3-pointer dropped the Hoosier deficit to 5 again, and after a Raven Johnson bucket, a Sara Scalia 3-ball made the score 72-68. The Gamecocks went inside to Cardoso for a score, and then Parrish knocked down 2 free throws to make the score 74-70 with 1:40 left in the game. A Mackenzie Holmes score off of a loose ball brought Indiana within 2 points as the two teams got ready to play the final minute.

A clutch (and bold) Raven Johnson 3-point attempt fell before a Mackenzie Holmes score cut the lead to 3 again. With 24 seconds left, Johnson went 1-2 from the charity stripe to make it a two-possession game again.

A poor foul call against Raven Johnson sent Chloe Moore-McNeil to the line where she made 1-2. Tessa Johnson also went 1-2 on the ensuing intentional foul to make the score 79-75 with 15 seconds in the game. Ashlyn Watkins swatted a Gerzon 3-pointer into the stands, and then Indiana couldn't get a bucket after the inbound.

The Gamecocks escaped with a 79-75 win to move on to the Elite Eight.

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