Carolina unites through tragedy to reach Final Four

Carolina unites through tragedy to reach Final Four
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 30: South Carolina Gamecocks players celebrate their win over the Texas Longhorns in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA WomenÕs Basketball Tournament at the Alamodome on March 30, 2021, in San Antonio, Texas. (Source: Photo by C. Morgan Engel via Getty Images)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Carolina cuts down the nets, and there’s a sense from the players of it being a surreal moment. There’s also a strong spirit of togetherness.

Since arriving in the bubble, a Gamecock assistant coach’s mother died. A player lost her uncle.

Head coach Dawn Staley mentioned on Tuesday night that they could have easily said family first. Like this group has all season, those two individuals sacrificed, and this entire team displayed its resolve to chase their dreams on the court.

It’s onward to the Final Four!

“I’m honored to coach this basketball team,” said Staley. “I truly give G-D the glory for allowing us to be in these moments.”

Carolina celebrates a milestone win in Texas against Texas. A victory Staley suggests some outside their camp doubted was achievable.

Carolina lost three of its last seven games down the stretch.

After the ending the regular season with a loss at Texas A&M, the Gamecocks came together and peeled back the layers to unite. They have not lost since and now have cut down two nets.

Staley credits life skills coaches Johnny and Felicia Allen for creating the pathway to fulfilling dreams.

“They put them in situations where they have to meet each other halfway with communication and realness,” Staley said. “Once we were able to do that, you see, we’re a different team.”

Carolina stuck together and is playing its best in tourney time.

“For people that doubted this moment, you can come on back,” Staley quipped. “We always got room on the bandwagon for you.”

Zia Cooke certainly is playing her best basketball of the season. She was named the most outstanding player of the Hemisfair Region.

Cooke said after the game that the work is not done and that the Gamecocks are ready for the challenge to chase the ultimate prize.

South Carolina faces Stanford in the Final Four on Friday at 6 PM ET.

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