South Carolina and Missouri’s bitter rivalry boiled over into shoving and ejections on Sunday evening just before halftime.
With 2:18 left in the second quarter at Colonial Life Arena, USC redshirt junior forward Alexis Jennings and Mizzou forward Kayla Michael went to the floor competing for a loose ball. After a tie ball was called, players from both teams began shoving each other.
At the center of the scuffle seemed to be Missouri star Sophie Cunningham, South Carolina guard Doniyah Cliney and Jennings. Cunningham appeared to shove both Gamecocks, and Cliney seemed to get a push to Cunningham’s face in as well.
After a 10-minute review, officials assessed offsetting unsportsmanlike fouls on Cunningham and Cliney, gave Missouri’s bench a technical foul and ejected two Tiger players, freshman Nadia Green and sophomore Jordan Roundtree.
Both Green and Roundtree came off the bench during the incident, as did Missouri coach Robin Pingeton, who made her way across the court to restrain Cunningham.
Tensions between the two teams have been high ever since they faced off on Jan. 7 in Columbia, Missouri. In that contest, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley was ejected after picking up two technical fouls, and USC star A’ja Wilson spent most of the game on the bench with foul trouble, while many Gamecock fans felt the Tigers got away with fouls of their own.
That animosity was still very much alive early in Sunday’s game, as the home crowd booed Missouri, especially Cunningham, at every opportunity, and several hard plays went without whistles before the fight broke out.