ALBANY, N.Y. — Guard Raven Johnson stood at halfcourt dribbling out the game clock, seemingly the only Gamecock who hadn’t yet begun to celebrate South Carolina’s 70-58 win over Oregon State.

Bree Hall and Tessa Johnson embraced and hopped in unison. The coaches hugged and huddled on the bench. Finally, the buzzer rang and South Carolina could finally relax as it punched a ticket to its fourth-consecutive Final Four and its sixth under coach Dawn Staley.

It was another balanced performance from the Gamecocks with utter dominance in the paint — the hallmark of this undefeated season. Behind the performances of the region’s Most Outstanding Player Kamilla Cardoso (12 points, nine rebounds) and Ashlyn Watkins (14 rebounds and eight points) the Gamecocks outscored the Beavers 44-14 in the paint, including 28 second-chance points.

With Oregon State bigs Raegan Beers (6-4) and Timea Gardiner (6-3) in early foul trouble — the duo picked up three fouls apiece in the first half — the Gamecocks were able to build a strong lead from which Oregon State was never able to fully break past.

The game opened up for the Gamecocks in the third quarter when they went on a 14-2 run and clamped down on defense, holding the Beavers scoreless for more than four minutes to stretch the lead to as many as 14 points. An early fourth-quarter run helped the Beavers cut South Carolina’s lead to four, but the Gamecocks continued to respond and stack together multiple stops while Johnson poured in seven of her team-high 15 points.

The win was a good test for the Gamecocks in holding off runs from opponents late. On Friday in a Sweet 16 game against Indiana, after leading by as many as 22 points, the Gamecocks had to hold off the Hoosiers’ second-half runs.

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(Photo: Andy Lyons / Getty Images)


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