South Carolina forward A’ja Wilson seemed almost shy about the accomplishment.
Sure she’d surpassed the 1,000-point scoring barrier for her career, but it didn’t seem to get her too high.
“I’ve heard everyone telling me that,” she said.
It took a little coaxing for her to say more, and even then, she wasn’t paying it too much mind.
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“It means a lot. It really does,” Wilson said. “Hitting that, it’s pretty good.”
Hitting the mark as a sophomore put her in exclusive company. The only other Gamecock to accomplish the feat is Sheila Foster, who happens to hold the program record for points and rebounds.
Kansas State made the Gamecocks read and react on offense all night, rolling out an array of zone defenses.
“We knew what plays worked for which defenses they were running,” sophomore forward Jatarie White said. “So the point guard did a good job calling out plays.”
The Gamecocks shot a blistering 55.2 percent in the first half, hammered away for 18 offensive rebounds in the game and turned the ball over only 11 times.
Sunday was the final home game for seniors Khadijah Sessions, Tina Roy, Sarah Imovbioh, Tiffany Mitchell and Asia Dozier. Roy, a fifth-year senior, and Imovbioh, in her only year at USC, added to the class of Mitchell, Sessions and Dozier to make Colonial Life Arena one of the most intimidating venues in the country.
The five only had seven home losses in their careers, six when the four other than Imovbioh were freshmen or redshirt freshmen.
FILLING THE SEATS
USC’s first NCAA Tournament game drew 10,276, by far the most of any regional in the country. Notre Dame was second with 6,310.
Sunday’s game drew 10,048, which fell short of the 15,000-plus needed to hit 250,000 home fans for the season.
Kansas State’s mascot, Willie Wildcat, drew a few stares from folks not in the know. Willie has a large gray fuzzy mascot head, and the rest is a human body.
The student playing Willie, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that that’s the way K-State has always done it. “Other people make fun of it, but that’s OK,” the student said. “We like it.”
David Cloninger contributed to this report