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South Carolina move to 36-0 to make NCAA Tournament Final Four

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 victory over Oregon State on Sunday.

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

The Gamecocks, who have reached the Final Four in four consecutive years, will play Texas or NC State on Friday night in Cleveland. Two more wins by South Carolina would make the Gamecocks the 10th school to complete a season undefeated and the first since UConn did so 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) closed the score to 62-58 with 3:55 left in the game . But the Beavers missed their last 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 lead slip away in the second half. Just as they did in the regional semifinal against Indiana, the young Gamecocks made the necessary plays along the way.

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 closed the series with the four points, making it 55-41 with 1:36 left in the third quarter.