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South Carolina tops LSU in SEC title game marred by bench-clearing scuffle, mass ejections

Kamilla Cardoso and Angel Reese vie for a rebound in the first half of Sunday's SEC championship game. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

South Carolina beat LSU for the SEC championship Sunday in a name tournament marred by means of lump ejections that experience implications for the NCAA match.

The highest-ranked Gamecocks weathered foul hassle from All-SEC middle Kamilla Cardoso and upcoming hung on upcoming a late-game scuffle for the 79-72 win. LSU completed with 5 eligible gamers and South Carolina six upcoming the bench-clearing fracas that initiatives to let fall Cardoso ineligible within the first spherical of NCAA match play games.

Cardoso shoves Johnson, benches sunny

Issues were given blazing within the ultimate mins because the scuffle poor out related midcourt. Gamers traded shoves upcoming Cardoso driven LSU’s Flau’jae Johnson to the courtroom on the finish of a play games. Johnson prior to now grabbed the hip of South Carolina’s MiLaysia Fulwiley on a handover, sparking Cardoso’s response.

Gamers from each groups left the bench to fasten the scuffle. A person from the stands jumped over the scorer’s desk to fasten the scuffle ahead of being detained by means of safety. ESPN reported that the person was once Johnson’s brother.

Recreation officers spent kind of 20 mins reviewing the incident on a sideline observe ahead of sorting issues out. They referred to as an intentional foul on Johnson, upcoming ejected Cardoso for combating. In addition they ejected each participant who left the bench.

LSU completed the sport with Johnson, Angel Reese, Hailey Van Lith, Mikaylah Williams and Aneesah Morrow. South Carolina completed with Fulwiley, Ashlyn Watkins, Sania Feagin, Bree Corridor, Raven Johnson and Te-Hina Paopao. All alternative gamers have been ejected.

South Carolina led 73-66 on the past of the incident and hung on for the win.

Staley, Cardoso say sorry postgame

South Carolina head teacher Crack of dawn Staley addressed the incident in a postgame interview with ESPN.

“I just want to apologize to the basketball community,” she stated. “You know, when you’re playing a championship game like this, in our league things get heated. No bad intentions. Their emotions got so far ahead of them. Sometimes these things happen.

“I need to say sorry for us taking part in a component in that. That’s no longer who we’re, and that’s no longer what we’re about. However I’m glad for the gamers who have been in a position to complete the sport and get us any other championship.”

She additionally shared an include with LSU’s Johnson at the postgame sideline.

Staley told reporters that Johnson apologized to her for her function within the incident, a message that Staley sought after to percentage with the people.

“She’s a in point of fact excellent particular person,” Staley said of Johnson. “Issues simply were given escalated.”

Cardoso, in the meantime, introduced an apology on social media:

“I wish to prolong my sincerest apologies for my movements all through these days’s tournament, Cardoso wrote. “My behavior was not representative of who I am as a person or the South Carolina program, and I deeply regret any discomfort or inconvenience it may have caused.

“I pluck complete duty for my movements and safeguard you that I’m dedicated to engaging in myself with the last admire and sportsmanship going forward.”

After the dust settled, the South Carolina’s championship celebration ensued. Players reveled as confetti fell from the rafters before the Gamecocks cut down the nets. Fulwiley was named tournament MVP.

South Carolina players celebrate their SEC championship. (Eakin Howard/Getty Images)South Carolina players celebrate their SEC championship. (Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

South Carolina players celebrate their SEC championship. (Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

NCAA rule: Fight deems Cardoso ineligible for next game

Per the NCAA rulebook, Cardoso is not eligible for South Carolina’s next game because of the ejection for fighting. South Carolina’s next game will be in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Other players who were ejected will be eligible for their next game.

NCAA rulebook language makes clear that players who participate in a fight will be suspended for the team’s next game with little recourse for overturning the ruling of a fight:

Art. 10. The first time an individual participates in a fight during the season (including exhibition games), the individual shall be suspended from participating in the team’s next regular-season game (not an exhibition contest), including tournament competition.

Art. 16. After a game, conference offices or the assigning authority may correct an error about who was involved in a fight, but cannot change an official’s ruling that a fight took place or lessen the severity of the penalty. The conference office or assigning authority may make those penalties more severe.

Freshman Fulwiley comes though to keep South Carolina undefeated

South Carolina secured the win against the reigning NCAA champions despite Cardoso watching much of the game from the bench. She entered the second half with two fouls and picked up her third 1:20 into the third quarter. She went to the bench with South Carolina holding a 39-32 lead and didn’t return until the start of the fourth. She missed the final 2:08 after being ejected.

LSU shaved just one point off its deficit with Cardoso on the bench in the third as South Carolina entered the fourth quarter with a 59-53 lead. Fulwiley, a freshman guard, sparked the Gamecocks’ offense in Cardoso’s absence, scoring 10 of her game-high 24 points in the third. Cardoso finished with eight points and six rebounds in 22 minutes.

Morrow led four LSU players in double figures with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Reese added 15 points and 13 rebounds. South Carolina outshot LSU 43.1% to 37.3% from the field and forced 17 Tigers turnovers to overcome a 44-37 rebounding deficit.

Will perfect season end in South Carolina championship?

Like last season, South Carolina enters NCAA tournament play undefeated as the presumptive No. 1 overall seed, a situation that didn’t translate to a national title. The Gamecocks fell to Caitlin Clark and Iowa in last year’s Final Four for their first and only loss of the season before LSU went on to defeat Iowa for the national championship.

The Gamecocks will now enter an expected 1-16 matchup in the first round of NCAA tournament play shorthanded with Cardoso’s anticipated suspension. With Sunday’s loss, Angel Reese and the Tigers project to enter NCAA tournament play as a No. 2 seed as they look to defend their championship.

The South Carolina win was the second this season over LSU after a 76-70 victory over the Tigers in January. The Gamecocks needed to rally from an 11-point first-half deficit in that regular-season win on LSU’s home court. There was no rally needed on Sunday as South Carolina opened an 18-15 first-quarter lead and didn’t trail for the rest of the game.

LSU cut a double-digit deficit to as close a 67-66 midway through the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run. A Raven Johnson bank shot halted the LSU run, and the Tigers never took the lead.

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