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Sunday, May 28, 2023

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South Carolina uses electric third to overcome USF

The No. 1 seed South Carolina Gamecocks used exciting plays in the third quarter to blow away the No. 8 seed South Florida Bulls 76–45 and advance to their ninth straight Sweet Sixteen. It’s usually Aliyah Boston and Gia Cook who lead the way for the Gamecocks, and that was the case on Sunday. Boston posted 11 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks, and Cooks dropped a game-high 21 points to go along with two steals.

South Carolina was energized by a Victoria Saxton block-turned-Cook transition layup that made it 39–31 Gamecocks at the 6:52 mark of the third. Two minutes and one second later, Cooks layup off a backcourt steal and added 1-of-2 at the line to make it 46–33 for an intentional foul. Bree Hall had an exciting third down as South Carolina went up 19–7 with a catch-and-shoot mid-range makeshift inbound pass that made it 52–36 at the buzzer.

Elena Tsineke scored USF’s first five points, and then the Bulls took an 8–3 lead on Sammy Puisis’s three. This would be their first biggest lead, after which they took a 16-12 lead.

At the 6:53 mark of the second, a Hall 3-point play gave SC a 19–18 lead. The Gamecocks extended their lead to as many as seven in the frame as two Saxton free throws made it 29–22 with 3:04 left before the half. SC also went ahead 31–24 and 33–26 with a Tsinke three with five ticks remaining in the second cut to make it 33–29, the score at the break.

Leticia Amihere added 10 points and six boards in the winning cause, while Kiera Fletcher was good for six points, seven rebounds and three assists. Saxton finished with four of SC’s 10 blocks.

USF was in foul trouble, but none of its players fouled out. Cineke led the Bulls with 20 points; He was 4-of-6 from downtown. Puisis added 11 points, but Dulci Funcum Mendjideau was held to four.

SC held USF to just 29.3 percent shooting from the field. The Gamecocks also attempted 13 more free throws and made eight more. He won the battle over Glass 55-28.

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