Sweet to Elite: Gamecocks oust Georgia Tech to keep dancing

Sweet to Elite: Gamecocks oust Georgia Tech to keep dancing
South Carolina guard Zia Cooke (1) drives around Georgia Tech guard Loyal McQueen (00) during the first half of a college basketball game in the Sweet Sixteen round of the women's NCAA tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Sunday, March 28, 2021. (Source: AP Photo/Eric Gay/AP)

San Antonio, TX (WIS) - Sweet to Elite, South Carolina continues its dance in Texas with an impressive offensive display on Sunday.

The Gamecocks oust Georgia Tech from the NCAA Tournament in the Hemisfair Region, 76-65, to advance to the Elite 8 for the fifth time in program history.

Carolina controlled the lane scoring 44 points in the paint. Although, Georgia Tech was able to hang around inside with an impressive display on the glass. Carolina ranks third nationally in the rebound margin. But the Yellow Jackets managed to match the Gamecocks, with Carolina out-rebounding Georgia Tech by a single board.

Gamecock sophomore guard Zia Cooke sizzled off the jump. She dropped home her first three shots, for eight points, to drive Carolina to an early lead. Cooke finished with a team-high 17 points.

Amid her sharp-shooting, the Gamecocks quickly went on an 8-0 run in a span of 1:20. However, by the first media timeout, Carolina was unable to create much separation.

Carolina began the second quarter applying the heat on Georgia Tech. The Gamecocks utilized a balanced scoring attack by working the ball inside and out. Carolina surged with a 7-0 run in the frame’s opening minute to lead by ten points.

The Gamecocks matched their season average for three-point shots made in a game in the first 11 minutes of the contest, making four triples. Carolina finished with eight made threes.

The Yellow Jackets regrouped and reeled the Gamecocks back in. Carolina was held without a bucket for more than two minutes midway through the second quarter. It allowed Georgia Tech to shrink the deficit, 30-26.

Georgia Tech’s mission to shut sophomore forward Aliyah Boston down was effective in the first half. She was held scoreless and committed two personal fouls.

Yet, Carolina’s offense did not miss a beat throughout the game. All seven Gamecocks that played scored through excellent connectivity offensively and working to find the open shooter.

Carolina shot 56% from the field for the game.

Sophomore forward Laeticia Amihere made four of her first five shots to score 10 points in the first half, finishing with 15 points and seven rebounds.

Georgia Tech went on a 6-0 run in the final minute of the second quarter to cut Carolina’s lead from ten to four at the break.

Boston emerged from the locker room, poised to deliver. She found her way to the bucket early, dropped in seven of her nine points in the third quarter.

Carolina made ten of its first eleven shots in the third. The Gamecocks shots 71.4% in the quarter, outscoring Georgia Tech 23-15. Carolina carried a 12-point lead into the final quarter.

Georgia Tech kept inching closer. From down 17 points in the third, the Yellow Jackets trimmed the deficit to six points with under four minutes to play in the game.

Good patience by South Carolina allowed them to maintain the edge. The Gamecocks made one final push in the closing minutes of the showdown, with a big three-point bucket by Cooke to extend the lead to 11 points at the three-minute mark.

Carolina plays the winner of Maryland vs. Texas in the Elite 8 on Tuesday.

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