03/18 22:16 CDT Wilson leads South Carolina to 66-56 win over Virginia
Wilson leads South Carolina to 66-56 win over Virginia
By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) --- A'ja Wilson had 25 points and 11 rebounds in her
last-ever college home game to lead South Carolina to its fifth consecutive
trip to the Sweet 16 with a 66-56 victory over No. 10 seeded Virginia in the
women's NCAA Tournament's Albany Regional on Sunday night.
Wilson, the three-time Southeastern Conference player of the year, posted her
23rd double-double of the season and 53rd of her career for the Gamecocks
And the second-seeded Gamecocks needed every one of Wilson's points to push
past Virginia (19-14).
Up 30-25 at the half, South Carolina opened up a 12-point lead in the third
period before the Cavaliers cut it to 46-40 with 10 minutes left. Virginia
still trailed just 52-47 after Dominique Toussaint's driving bucket with 6:39
That's when Doniyah Cliney hit a high-arching 3-pointer from the right corner
and Wilson added two short jumpers to put the Gamecocks in front by double
digits. Virginia could not respond.
Wilson came out of the game for good with 34.5 seconds left to a standing
ovation from the late-night crowd. She hugged head coach Dawn Staley before
standing on the sidelines and gabbing with the training staff as time ticked
away. She waved to the appreciative fans who cheered her every move the past
Wilson added three of her team's five blocks and three assists in her final
game on her home court. The Gamecocks have gone 62-4 at home with Wilson on the
South Carolina has reached the round of 16 for the past five seasons --- all
four of those with Wilson --- and six of the past seven years.
Virginia was seeking its first regional semifinal since 2010. The Cavaliers
hung tough most of the game despite going up against Staley, the greatest
women's athlete in Virginia athletics who led the program to three Final Fours
when she played from 1989-92.
Toussaint and J'Kyra Brown had 16 points each to lead Virginia.
Virginia: The Cavaliers showed tenacity and grit in their first two NCAA games
since their last appearance in 2010. With three of their top five scorers from
this season sophomores, including leading scorer Dominique Toussaint, Virginia
will look to continue making strides in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks out-talented the competition --- perhaps even
out-Wilsoned them --- in two home NCAA games. That won't fly in Albany in the
Sweet 16 if the defending national champions hope to make a second straight
title run in a region that includes No. 1 overall seed UConn. South Carolina
will need more production from point guard Tyasha Harris and Alexis Jennings,
who combined to go 8-of-20 shooting in the win over Virginia.
South Carolina will play either Florida State or Buffalo in the Sweet 16 on