South Carolina Basketball: Gamecocks back in Final Four after beating Beavers

South Carolina basketball is returning to the Final Four again after beating the Oregon State Beavers in the Elite Eight.

South Carolina basketball freshman Tessa Johnson
South Carolina basketball freshman Tessa Johnson / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina basketball played a close game in the Sweet Sixteen against the Indiana Hoosiers, but they held on to advance to the Elite Eight where the Oregon State Beavers awaited them. The matchup pitted two of the country's best rebounding teams in the nation against each other

The game against the Beavers began with a Kamilla Cardoso tip, but OSU got a stop on the first possession. All-American Raegan Beers hit a midrange jumper to light up the scoreboard first. A Bree Hall and-one gave Dawn Staley's team the lead, and a full-court press from the Gamecocks shook up Oregon State a bit with back-to-back held balls, earning a free possession for USC.

Chloe Kitts made 2 foul shots with the extra opportunity, and some intense defense and rebounding from the two teams kept scoring numbers low. The score was just 7-4 in favor of Carolina at the mid-way point of the 1st period before Te-Hina Paopao drained an open 3-pointer in transition before the media timeout.

After nearly 6 minutes without a field goal make, Talia von Oelhoffen made a 2-point jumper that nearly hit the rafters, but Sania Feagin and MiLaysia Fulwiley picked up buckets on the next two possessions. After some Beaver free throws, Fulwiley dribbled through the less-athletic OSU defense for another score. Two threes from Lily Hansford, though, cut the lead to 2 points before Bree Hall made the score 18-14 with the final score of the 1st quarter.

Tessa Johnson began the 2nd quarter with a 3-pointer, but Raven Johnson picked up her 2nd foul on a made layup by Raegan Beers. Kamilla Cardoso showed off her shooting touch with a midrange jumper, but Lily Hansford hit her 3rd long ball to make the score 23-19 in favor of the Gamecocks.

The scoring pace picked up a bit as both teams shot better in the 2nd period. At the 4:23 mark, South Carolina basketball led 31-22 after a quick 8-3 run. The Beavers scored 5 points in a row after a timeout, but an athletic play from Bree Hall earned two free throws. Donovyn Hunter hit a huge 3-pointer for Oregon State, though, and the halftime score settled at 37-34.

Two easy scores from Cardoso over the foul-hampered Beers was a good start to the 3rd quarter for Dawn Staley's team on offense, but free throws from Beers and four points from Talia von Oelhoffen brought the deficit down to just 2 points. A Kamilla Cardoso tip steal became a bucket when the 6'7" post player ran the floor well.

A confident 3-point shot from the corner for Raven Johnson put them back up by 5. It was their first make from outside in a while after missing 10 straight. They made a second in a row when Tessa Johnson made one from about the same spot. After a stop, Tessa Johnson got a floater to fall, and Sania Feagin scored on a fast break to push the USC lead to 12 points. The run finished as a 12-0 stretch as AJ Marotte stopped the bleeding for Scott Rueck's team with a made jumper.

Oregon State pushed back a little to close the 3rd period (with the help of some odd foul calls against Sania Feagin, bringing her to 4 for the game), but even so, the Gamecocks led 58-46 as the final period began.

Neither team scored in the opening two minutes of the 4th quarter, thanks in part to MiLaysia Fulwiley overcoming a severe (and uncalled push-off) to swat Donovyn Hunter's layup attempt. A Raegan Beers paint basket and a Lily Hansford leaning 3-point shot dropped to make the score 58-51. Bree Hall made a layup to answer, but Timea Gardiner nailed a 3-point jumper to cut the lead down to 6 points.

A lane violation erased a Kamilla Cardoso free throw make, but Te-Hina Paopao made just her 2nd shot of the game on the ensuing possession. A Hunter blow-by of Paopao brought the lead down to 4, but after a timeout, the newly-inserted Tessa Johnson converted an and-one.

A huge Ashlyn Watkins block resulted in the ball going back to the Gamecocks, and after another stop, the Gamecocks led 65-58 with 48 seconds remaining. 2 Tessa Johnson free throws and a 1-2 trip to the line from Bree Hall put the Gamecocks up by 10. OSU couldn't convert again on their next offensive possession, and 2 more free throws from Johnson iced the game. Dawn Staley and the Gamecocks won 70-58 to advance to another Final Four.

Final. 58. 516. South Carolina Basketball vs. Oregon State Beavers. 70. 533