Mikiah Herbert Harrigan scored 20 points off the bench to lead fourth-seeded South Carolina into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women’s Tournament’s with a 72-64 victory Sunday against fifth-seeded Florida State in Charlotte, N.C.
Alexis Jennings added 16 points and Te’a Cooper scored 13 for the Gamecocks, while Tyasha Harris (11 points) made a clutch three-point play with 27 seconds left. South Carolina was up by just one point when Harris made her drive to the rim.
South Carolina (23-9) reached the Sweet 16 for the sixth consecutive year.
Florida State (24-9) shot only 35.5 percent from the field and 21.4 percent (3 of 14) from 3-point range.
The short-handed Seminoles had just eight available players, including four freshmen. Nicki Ekhomu had a team-high 19 points, Morgan Jones scored a career-high 15 points and Kiah Gillespie posted a double-double with 15 points and a game-high 18 rebounds.
The Seminoles, who lost all five of their 2017-18 starters, had no seniors on this roster and suffered three season-ending injuries earlier in the year to Amaya Brown, Izabela Nicoletti and Iho Lopez.
It is the third time in the past five years that the Gamecocks have ended FSU’s season in the NCAA Tournament. In 2015, the teams met in the Elite Eight, and the Gamecocks advanced to their first-ever Final Four. In 2017, again in the Elite Eight, South Carolina prevailed on the way to its first national title.
The Seminoles have qualified for the NCAA Tournament 13 times in the past 14 years, but they have never gotten past the Elite Eight.
On Sunday, the teams were tied 20-20 after one quarter as both schools shot 47 percent from the floor. Cooper led all first-quarter scorers with 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting, including two 3-pointers.
There were five lead changes in a back-and-forth second quarter before South Carolina went to the break with a 37-30 lead. FSU was held to 34.2 percent shooting in the first half, blowing an eight-point lead.
The Seminoles finished the third quarter on an 18-10 run, closing its deficit to 52-51, but the Gamecocks made enough plays down the stretch to escape with the win.
—Field Level Media