South Carolina romps past North Carolina as Gamecocks set a pair of program records in first two rounds

The South Carolina Gamecocks are advancing to the Sweet 16 after a dominant 88-41 win over North Carolina. This is their 10th consecutive year advancing past the Round of 32, the second-longest active streak behind UConn (29).

Is this a dynasty in the making? Absolutely.

Coach Dawn Staley was all business in the postgame press conference, and despite her team being undefeated all season while holding the nation’s best scoring margin (30.4), she was able to appreciate how special this performance was.

“We haven’t played like that in a super long time,” Staley said. “We were talking about that in the coaches’ locker room. We haven’t played well all together. Every single one of our players made an impact coming into the game. We needed a performance like this. Hopefully playing this good of a basketball [game] can be contagious throughout the rest of the way.”

South Carolina is an intimidatingly deep team with seven players averaging at least eight points per game. That depth was in full force Sunday as the South Carolina bench outscored North Carolina on its own.

Nine Gamecocks scored at least two points. Freshman MiLaysia Fulwiley led the way by recording 20 points from the bench while adding nine rebounds, three steals and three blocks.

South Carolina entered the NCAA Women’s Tournament undefeated for the second consecutive season. Last year, the Gamecocks fell to Iowa in the Final Four, which means they were unable to defend their 2022 national title. But now Staley’s team is back in the Big Dance and ready to make a statement. 

The Gamecocks crushed Presbyterian, 91-39 ,in the first round. The Tar Heels competed well against South Carolina during the regular season, but they were not able to do much of anything in their tournament meeting. In fact, North Carolina managed to score a total of just 15 points in the first and fourth quarters combined.

South Carolina’s +99 scoring margin through its first two NCAA Tournament games sets a program record over the Round of 64 and Round of 32. It is also the first time the Gamecocks ever have won back-to-back tournament games by 40+ points.

The numbers are insane, but perhaps we should have seen it coming. Staley’s team warned everyone during the regular season by registering a program-best six 100-point games. South Carolina has long established itself as a defensive powerhouse, but this year the offense has evolved and has made the team even more dangerous than before

Up next, South Carolina will be heading to Albany, N.Y. to play either Indiana or Oklahoma. 

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