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Mar 29, 2024 7:39 pm

No. 1 South Carolina preserves perfect record by holding off Indiana

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ALBANY, N.Y. — No. 1 seed South Carolina put on a dominating display in the first half but barely held on in the fourth quarter to defeat No. 4 seed Indiana 79-75 in the Albany 1 region semifinal of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

The Gamecocks (35-0) entered the Sweet 16 round with an average winning margin of 30.9 points per game on the season — 49.5 over their first two tournament games — and the Hoosiers looked like they would be the latest big-loss victim for coach Dawn Staley’s team.

Indiana (26-6) mustered just 37.5 percent from the field against the tough South Carolina defense in the first half. But things turned around in the second, when the Hoosiers shot 55.2 percent and 43.8 percent from 3-point range (7 of 16) to turn the 17-point halftime deficit into just a two-point margin on Holmes’ layup with 1:08 to play.

Raven Johnson hit a critical 3-pointer on the Gamecocks’ next possession to stem the tide.

Kamilla Cardoso led the Gamecocks with 22 points and seven rebounds. Johnson added 14 points, six assists and five rebounds.

For Indiana, Sydney Parrish scored 21 on 7-of 14 shooting. Yarden Garzon added 16 points, and Mackenzie Holmes, Sara Scalia and Chloe Moore-McNeil each had 12.

The Gamecocks will face No. 3 seed Oregon State on Sunday in the regional final with a berth in the Final Four on the line. Oregon State defeated Notre Dame 70-65 in the day’s first game in Albany.

Behind 13 points from Cardoso, the Gamecocks took a 49-32 lead at the half.

South Carolina opened the second half on a 7-2 run to take a 22-point lead at the 7:30 mark. But after Parrish scored eight straight points on two 3-pointers and a layup, followed by a Garzon layup, the Hoosiers had closed the deficit to 61-50 with 3:50 left in the period.

Holmes, Indiana’s leading scorer, had a chance to whittle the deficit to single digits but missed two free throws at the end of the third quarter with South Carolina up 65-55.

Indiana trimmed the deficit to 65-60 on a layup by Holmes and another 3 by Parrish — one of her five on the day — but the Gamecocks got the lead back to eight with 4:50 left in the final quarter.

–Jami Farkas, Field Level Media

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