Gamecocks overpower Texas to punch ticket to Final Four

Gamecocks overpower Texas to punch ticket to Final Four
Texas's Joanne Allen-Taylor draws a charge on South Carolina's Zia Cooke during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Elite Eight round of the Women's NCAA tournament Tuesday, March 30, 2021, at the Alamodome in San Antonio. (Source: AP Photo/Morry Gash/AP)

San Antonio, TX (WIS) - South Carolina overwhelms Texas to return to the Final Four.

The Gamecocks hold the Longhorns scoreless in the final quarter and win this Elite 8 battle, 62-34. It marked the first scoreless quarter in NCAA Tournament history.

Five Gamecocks score in double figures from inside the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

The Gamecocks advance to the Final Four for the third time in program history, first since winning it all in Dallas, Texas, back in 2017.

The Gamecocks used Aliyah Boston as a decoy in the first quarter. With the Longhorns occupied, Victaria Saxton controlled the paint, and she took advantage. Saxton started 4-4 from the field, scoring Carolina’s first eight points.

Destanni Henderson hit a layup on the fastbreak with 7:38 remaining in the first to make it 10-2 Gamecocks. The Longhorns called a timeout in hopes of regrouping.

Carolina’s defense flustered Texas’ offense. The Longhorns shot a mere 19% from the field in the first ten minutes. The Gamecocks held an 18-7 lead through one quarter of play.

In the second quarter, Zia Cooke commanded the court. She dropped 11 of her 13 first-half points in the frame on 5-of-7 shooting. Cooke’s three-pointer with 2:59 remaining made it 33-19 Gamecocks. It was the only three-point attempt the Gamecocks had in the entire first half.

Carolina closed the opening half on a 13-5 run to lead by 15 at the break.

Boston, Saxton, and Cooke combined to score 33 of Carolina’s 37 points in the first 20 minutes.

Carolina cooled off to begin the third quarter. The Gamecocks made one of their first nine shot attempts.

Texas took advantage of the cold stretch. The Longhorns went on a 7-0 run in a span of 2:26 to cut the deficit to 41-29. Carolina called a timeout with 5:13 remaining to calm things down.

Henderson settled South Carolina back in, connecting on a wide-open attempt from three-point range with 4:13 remaining to extend the lead to 44-31.

Carolina closed out the quarter on a 6-0 run capped by a sweet sidestep drive in the lane by Cooke. The Gamecocks comfortably entered the final frame up by 18 points.

The Gamecocks close the game the way they started it, dominating on both ends. Texas missed all 15 shot attempts and failed to register a single point in the final quarter.

Texas senior center Charli Collier, a projected top 5 WNBA draft pick, was kept in check most of the night. Collier finished with only four points.

Cooke finished with a team-high 16 points. Henderson, Boston, Saxton, and Laeticia Amihere all finished in double figures.

Cooke was named the most outstanding player of the Hemisfair Region.

Cooke said after the game that this team is a reflection of its head coach Dawn Staley. Any time they’re doubted, they keep the foot on the gas.

Staley improves to 13-3 all-time vs. Texas head coach Vic Schaefer. The 12 previous wins came when Schaefer coached at Mississippi State.

Gamecocks face the winner of Stanford vs. Louisville Friday at 6 PM ET.

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