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Undefeated South Carolina women advance to Final Four with 70-58 win over Oregon State

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Tessa Johnson scored 15 points, Kamilla Cardoso added 12 and undefeated South Carolina advanced to the Final Four of the women’s NCAA Tournament with a 70-58 win over Oregon State on Sunday.

South Carolina made it to the national semifinals unbeaten for the second straight season. The Gamecocks lost to Caitlin Clark and Iowa in the Final Four last year. This time, with an entirely new starting lineup, coach Dawn Staley has her group on the verge of the school’s third national championship.

The Gamecocks, who have made the Final Four in four straight years, will play either Texas or N.C. State on Friday night in Cleveland. Two more wins by South Carolina would make the Gamecocks the 10th school to finish a season undefeated and the first since UConn did it in 2016.

Top-seeded South Carolina (36-0) led by four at the half and built a 14-point lead before No. 3 seed Oregon State (27-8) got within 62-58 with 3:55 left in the game. But the Beavers then missed their final seven shots.

Johnson answered after a timeout with a three-point play, scoring on a drive to restore a seven-point cushion. No one scored until Johnson made two free throws with 44.5 seconds left.

Raegan Beers scored 16 points to lead the Beavers.

This was the second straight game in the Albany 1 Region where South Carolina let a double-digit second-half lead slip away. Just like against Indiana in the regional semifinal, the young Gamecocks made the necessary plays down the stretch.

South Carolina led 43-41 before scoring 12 straight points in the third quarter. Raven Johnson, who hit the big 3-pointer to beat Indiana in the Sweet 16, connected on a corner 3 to start the game-changing spurt. Tessa Johnson followed with five straight points, and Sania Feagin capped the burst with the four points that made it 55-41 with 1:36 left in the third quarter.

The Beavers were down 58-46 heading into the fourth. They scored 12 of the first 16 points of the period to close within 62-58 on Donovyn Hunter’s layup.

South Carolina and Oregon State had played twice before in the NCAA Tournament and the Gamecocks won both, including in 2021. Oregon State advanced this far for the first time since 2018. The Beavers made their only trip to the Final Four in 2016.

The Gamecocks dominated the offensive boards to take a 37-33 lead at the half. South Carolina had 13 offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes. Oregon State was able to stay in the game by hitting six 3-pointers, including three by Lily Hansford in the opening half.

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South Carolina is two victories away from its third national championship.