Mikiah Herbert Harrigan scored 20 points, Alexis Jennings added 16 and fourth-seeded South Carolina beat No. 5 seed Florida 72-64 on Sunday to advance to the women’s NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 for the sixth straight season.
Te’a Cooper added 13 points and Tyasha Harris had 11 for South Carolina, which won despite being outrebounded 50-33 and allowing Florida State to grab 27 offensive rebounds.
It’s the third time in the past five seasons the Gamecocks have eliminated the Seminoles from the NCAA Tournament, beating them in the Elite Eight in 2015 and 2017.
Nicki Ekhomu scored 19 points and Kiah Gilespie had 15 points and 18 rebounds for Florida State (24-9).
South Carolina (23-9) took the lead for good with 2:14 left when Cooper drove the lane and dished to Jennings, who scored and drew a foul for a three-point play for a 63-60 lead.
Ekhomu answered with a mid-range jumper to cut the lead to one. South Carolina’s Victaria Saxton made two free throws to push the lead back to three with 1:22 left.
But Gillespie grabbed the Seminoles 26th rebound of the game and scored to trim the lead back to one with 46 seconds left.
That’s when Harris came up with the play of the game, driving the right side of the lane, scoring off the glass and drawing a foul for a three-point play to make it a two-possession game with 27.2 seconds left.
For the first time all game, Florida State didn’t have an answer as Ekhomu missed a 3-pointer and then fouled. Cooper made 1 of 2 free throws to push the lead to five.
Gillespie then missed a 3-pointer when Florida State was called for a foul with 9.8 seconds left. She slammed the ball down to the court twice in frustration drawing a technical foul.
After falling behind by eight early on, the Gamecocks got a big second quarter from Herbert Harrigan, who helped build 37-30 halftime lead behind a steady stream of mid-range jumpers. But the Seminoles would battle back in the third to close to the gap to 52-51 behind strong offensive rebounding.
Florida State: The Seminoles don’t have a senior on the roster and they have nine freshman and sophomores, so they have a bright future ahead and this year’s tournament experience will only help them moving forward.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks appear to have regained some of their swagger but it will need to work on boxing out if it hopes to advance in the NCAA Tournament.
The Gamecocks move on to face the winner of the No. 1 seed Baylor and No. 8 California in the Sweet 16 in Greensboro, North Carolina.