Start time: 9pm ET
TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch, LaChina Robinson, Molly McGrath) | Live Stream: WatchESPN.com
Radio: 107.5 The Game in Columbia (Brad Muller) | Live Audio: Gamecock IMG Sports Network
After the Gamecocks men’s basketball team beat one Florida team to advance to its first Final Four in program history, South Carolina’s women are looking to beat another Florida team to get to its second national semifinal. Dawn Staley and her team will face Sue Semrau’s Florida State Seminoles in a rematch of the 2015 Greensboro Regional final; the winner heads to Dallas to the Women’s Final Four to take on Stanford on Friday.
Revenge will definitely be on the minds of the Seminoles: it’s the Gamecocks that denied them their first-ever trip to the Final Four with an 80-74 win two years ago on Wednesday. While some of the names have changed (Aleighsa Welch, Tiffany Mitchell, Tina Roy, Adut Bulgak, Maegan Conwright), others are still around (A’ja Wilson, Bianca Cuevas-Moore, Shakayla Thomas, Brittany Brown, Leticia Romero, Ivey Slaughter). Semrau and her older players definitely have the book on South Carolina; whether or not this is a different result remains to be seen.
Thomas, Brown, Romero and Slaughter all started in the Greensboro Regional two years ago. Thomas and Romero, along with Baylor transfer Imani Wright, have combined for 38.2 points and 12.1 rebounds a game this season, with Thomas leading the way in points and boards (15.1/6.0). One stat that pops out is the fact that the Noles outrebound their opponents by a +9 margin on average (40.5-31.2) and +6 on the offensive boards (about 16.1-10.75). This is a game where South Carolina would have loved to have Alaina Coates available; they need to use Wilson’s presence inside to help erase second-chance opportunities and to tip the rebounding scales their way. They’ll also need to make sure that their perimeter defense is spotless; with a 51% three-point shooter in Romero and Wright firing from outside at around 40% a pop, the Gamecocks can’t afford to be drawn out of their game plan and get into a shooting war with Florida State. Granted, Kaela Davis was spectacular against Quinnipiac (5-6 from three, 28 points), but playing an inside game benefits the Gamecocks best.