There must be something in the water in the state’s capital, Columbia, South Carolina, as both basketball teams from the University of South Carolina are headed to the Final Four. The women’s program is making its second trip in the past three years to the Final Four, but the men are in uncharted territory, making their debut. The Lady Gamecocks defeated Florida State 71-64 last night in the Stockton Regional. The men’s team topped Florida 77-70 in a back-and-forth affair on Sunday to advance. The South Carolina program becomes just the 10th program in NCAA history to place both men’s and women’s teams in the Final Four in the same year.
Dawn Staley and her Lady Gamecocks entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed and cruised to a 90-40 victory over UNC Asheville. South Carolina struggled against Arizona State but rallied in the second half to score the 71-68 win. In the Sweet Sixteen, the Lady Gamecocks put three starters in double-digits led by Kaela Davis with 28-points as they dismantled Quinnipiac 100-58. South Carolina then pulled away late against Florida State to punch its ticket to the Final Four.
Frank Martin’s Gamecocks found the going a little tougher, starting their quest as a No. 7 seed with a 93-73 win over Marquette. South Carolina shocked the world in the round of 32 as they played a flawless second half of basketball against Duke to scored the 88-81 victory over the Blue Devils and advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time. The Gamecocks however were not done as they rolled to a 70-50 win over Baylor. South Carolina was victorious in their Elite Eight showdown with SEC rival Florida.
Both the men’s and women’s teams enter their respective Final Four match-ups with loads of momentum. The Lady Gamecocks have found their identity once again after losing Alaina Coates to a season ending ankle injury. A’ja Wilson and Kaela Davis have restored South Carolina’s confidence in their scoring ability. The Gamecocks will take on Stanford Friday in Dallas, Texas. The men’s team boasts arguably the best defense in the country as they continue their textbook Cinderella run in the NCAA Tournament. Senior SEC Player of the Year, Sindarius Thornwell, leads the Gamecocks averaging 21 points per game. Chris Silva’s presence inside the paint has transformed the Gamecock’s offense that in the past struggled to score. South Carolina will take on Gonzaga in Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday.