The first 34 seconds of No. 1 Seed South Carolina’s Elite Eight tilt with No. 6 Seed Texas were competitive as the teams traded buckets. Then, the Gamecocks exploded for a 8-0 run to take control of the game. South Carolina never looked back on the way to a 62-34 win, clinching a spot in the Final Four. They will face the winner of No. 1 seed Stanford and No. 2 Seed Louisville at 6 p.m. on Friday.
With the cancelation of the 2020 tournament, the Gamecocks have made the Final Four in three of the last six tournaments with the others coming in 2015, and the 2017 National Championship season.
In the first quarter, South Carolina fed Victaria Saxton in the post, as she scored the team’s first eight points. After a layup by Destanni Henderson, the Longhorns called a timeout, but to no avail. South Carolina finished the quarter up 18-7, scoring all points from either the paint or the free throw line.
The Gamecocks extended the lead to 13 before the Longhorns found their shooting rhythm to cut the lead to seven midway through the quarter, energizing the Texas heavy crowd.
But after the under-five media timeout, South Carolina went on an 11-2 run to take their largest lead of the game, 18, at 37-19. Texas would hit a three at the buzzer, but the Gamecocks and Longhorns would head to the locker room with USC seemingly in firm control.
Zia Cooke lead the South Carolina offense in the second quarter putting up 11 points. She led South Carolina with 16 on the game, followed by Saxton and Henderson with 12 a piece.
The buzzer-beater seemed to give the never-say-die Longhorns life. Gamecock head coach Dawn Staley was forced to use a timeout after a 7-0 Texas run to cut the deficit to 12. They would later cut the lead to just 10 with 4:37 left in the third quarter, but a Henderson three put an end to the momentum. South Carolina would close the quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 52-34 lead.
Henderson would drain another triple early in the fourth to give USC a 55-34 lead, putting the game out of reach. The only thing left was for the clock to hit zero.
The 34 points are the fewest USC has allowed in an NCAA Tournament game. In addition, prior to the fourth quarter, no team had been held scoreless in a quarter in tournament history. Women’s college basketball went to quarters in the 2015-16 season.