Stockton, CA — Kaela Davis scored 23 points for the Gamecocks and A'ja Wilson added 16 more as top-seeded South Carolina held off No. 3 seed Florida State 71-64 in a fiery finish Monday night to win the Stockton Regional.
The teams are no strangers, having played each other two years ago in the 2015 Elite Eight. In that game, South Carolina led for less than a minute but it was the most important seconds of the game as the Gamecocks took home the win.
Now, two years later, South Carolina and Florida State were ready to battle again.
The Gamecocks, who were making their third Elite Eight appearance, didn’t once give up the lead, starting out the first quarter with a 5-0 run over the Seminoles. Freshman guard Tyasha Harris and junior guard Allisha Gray each nailed three-pointers for South Carolina, while six-foot-five junior forward A’ja Wilson contributed nine more.
Shakayla Thomas led the Seminoles with four of her team’s 17 points. Florida State ended the quarter trailing 24-17.
The Gamecocks remained hot in the second period, with junior guard Davis, daughter of former NBA player Antonio Davis, adding eight points to the scoreboard. Redshirt junior Imani Wright helped out Florida State by scoring seven points for her team, including the first three-pointer for the Seminoles.
However, South Carolina didn’t give up their lead. After Wright's jumper at the 4:23 mark made it 30-27, South Carolina closed the half with a 10-2 spurt. The first half closed with the Gamecocks up 40-29.
In the second half, Florida State proved they weren’t going to let South Carolina get away without a fight. The Seminoles went on a 12-2 run, with senior and 2016 Olympic Silver Medalist for Spain, Leticia Romero leading with six points.
Davis tallied eight points for the South Carolina as they rounded up the third-quarter 55-45. Florida State nailed 16-points in the third, while the Gamecocks were one behind them with 15-points.
With only 10 minutes left to potentially win the game, there was no doubt that the Seminoles were hungry for a bid to the Final Four. No one could put out Romero’s fire, as the senior continued scoring in the fourth quarter with seven points, including a three-pointer.
Chatrice White added six more points for Florida State while senior Brittany Brown had four. The Seminoles came within three points of the South Carolina 65-62, with two minutes left on the clock. A three-pointer and three foul shots by Harris helped the Gamecocks crawl further ahead and ultimately pull out a 71-64 victory over Florida State.
South Carolina will now go on to face the Lexington Regional winner Stanford (32-5) on Friday at the Final Four in Dallas.