June 25, 2024

Six ejected after LSU-South Carolina women’s basketball fight

March 11 (UPI) — Six players were ejected after an on-court fight late in South Carolina’s win over LSU in the Southeastern Conference women’s basketball title game in Greenville, S.C.

The incident occurred with 2:08 remaining in the Gamecocks’ 79-72 triumph Sunday at Bons Secours Wellness Arena.

Gamecocks star Kamila Cardoso, who shoved Tigers guard Flau’jae Johnson to the ground during the scuffle, is expected to receive a one-game suspension and miss the start of the NCAA tournament.

“What you saw were two highly competitive teams try to win a conference championship,” Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley told reporters.

“They did not handle it well. Our players didn’t. Their players didn’t and it escalated. I want to thank the officials and everybody that jumped in and calmed the situation down.”

The Gamecocks led 73-66 when guard MiLaysia Fulwiley stole the ball from Johnson to spark the sequence. Johnson then pulled on Fulwiley’s hip, spinning her around at half court with the foul.

Chloe Kitts shows potential after forgoing senior year of high school to  join Gamecock women's basketball - The Daily Gamecock at University of  South Carolina

Gamecocks forward Ashlyn Watkins then ran in to exchange words with Johnson, who pushed her away.

Cardoso then ran toward Johnson and shoved her to the ground. Players and coaches from both teams then congregated before they were separated and the game continued.

Cardoso was ejected. Chloe Kitts for fighting. Tessa Johnson and Sakima Walker also were ejected for leaving the Gamecocks bench area. Janae Kent and Aalyah Del Rosario were ejected for leaving the Tigers bench.

Cardoso, a second-team All-SEC selection last season, apologized on X on Sunday night.

“I would like to extend my sincerest apologies for my actions during [Sunday’s] game,” the 6-foot-7 center 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 take full responsibility for my actions and assure you that I am committed to conducting myself with the utmost respect and sportsmanship in the future.”

Staley said Johnson also apologized to her after the game. Fulwiley scored a game-high 24 points off the Gamecocks bench. Guard Te-Hina Paopao chipped in 12 points for the Gamecocks.

Tigers coach Kim Mulkey cited the lack of foul calls late in the game as a potential reason for the dustup. She also said the fight was “ugly” and “not good,” and that “no one wants to be a part of that.”

“Let me say this,” Mulkey said. “Do you realize there was only one foul called on each team with 2 minutes to play in the fourth quarter? Are you kidding me?

“That might have created some of that.”

Tigers guard Aneesah Morrow totaled 19 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Angel Reese scored 15 points and made 13 rebounds for the Tigers.

The Tigers held Cardoso, who leads the Gamecocks with 14 points per game, to just eight points Sunday in Greenville.

The Gamecocks outscored the Tigers 17-9 off fast breaks and 22-9 off turnovers. They also totaled 11 blocks, compared to the Tigers’ three rejections.

The field for the 2024 Division 1 women’s basketball tournament will be revealed Sunday at 8 p.m. EDT on ESPN. The top-ranked Gamecocks (33-0) are expected to be the No. 1 overall seed. The No. 8 Tigers (28-6) also are expected to be among the top seeds in the tournament.

“I’ve never been a part of a game like that,” Reese told reporters. “But of course, you know, two heavy hitters; we are going to battle. We aren’t scared of them. They aren’t scared of us. … It turned up and went in ways we didn’t want it to go, but I’m proud of this team.”

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