South Carolina dominates NC State to reach women's basketball national title game

The South Carolina Lady Gamecocks need just one more win to have a perfect season, and it will come in the national championship game. 

No. 1 South Carolina kicked off the women’s basketball Final Four with yet another dominant victory on the hardwood, this time over No. 3 NC State, 78-59, on Friday night in Cleveland. 

And of course, it was center Kamilla Cardoso leading the way for the Gamecocks, as she had a team-high 22 points with 11 rebounds for the double-double. She missed just two shots, going 10-of-12 from the field. 

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Kamilla Cardoso backs down defender

Kamilla Cardoso of the South Carolina Gamecocks works against River Baldwin of the NC State Wolfpack during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal game at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on April 5, 2024, in Cleveland, Ohio. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

While the score indicates South Carolina coasted to victory, it wasn’t the case after the first quarter ended at 16 apiece, and the halftime buzzer sounded with the Gamecocks only holding a one-point lead, 32-31.

But Dawn Staley’s group was relentless in the third quarter on both ends of the floor, leading the Wolfpack’s hopes of ending the undefeated season down the drain. 

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South Carolina outscored NC State, 29-6, allowing them to simply keep pace in the fourth quarter to ensure their spot in the national championship game. 

Te-Hina Paopao and MiLaysia Fulwiley celebrate on court

Te-Hina Paopao, left, and MiLaysia Fulwiley of the South Carolina Gamecocks react during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Final Four game against the NC State Wolfpack on April 5, 2024, in Cleveland. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The Gamecocks were in this position two years ago, when they eventually defeated UConn, 64-49, to secure the national title. It was the second in school history. The first came in 2017 in a victory over Mississippi State. 

They will await the winners of UConn and Iowa to see who their championship opponents will be. 

Looking more into the box score, Raven Johnson added 13 points, two rebounds and five assists for the Gamecocks, while also contributing three steals on the defensive side of the ball. Te-Hina Paopao had 10 points and six assists. 

Kamilla Cardoso smiles on court

Kamilla Cardoso of the South Carolina Gamecocks reacts in the Final Four semifinal game against the NC State Wolfpack on April 5, 2024, in Cleveland. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

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For NC State, Aziaha James led the team with 20 points on 6-of-17 from the field. She struggled from beyond the arc, knocking down just three of her 10 three-point attempts. River Baldwin also contributed 12 points and nine rebounds for the Wolfpack, while Zoe Brooks had 12 points and five rebounds off the bench. 

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