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March Madness: South Carolina survives Indiana comeback bid, now 3 wins from perfect season – Yahoo Sports

Jack Baer

South Carolina is three wins away from perfection, despite looking significantly less than perfect Friday.

The No. 1 seed Gamecocks survived a comeback attempt from No. 4 Indiana in the Sweet 16, pulling off a 79-75 win after watching a 22-point lead dwindle to two in the second half. It was far less comfortable than their previous two wins, in which they outscored the competition 179-80.

South Carolina is attempting to become the first team since 2015-16 UConn to go undefeated in a season after falling short in the Final Four last year against Caitlin Clark and Iowa.

Indiana’s comeback came out of nowhere

The game appeared to be on track for another South Carolina defensive pasting in the first half, with the Hoosiers shooting 12-of-32 from the field with nine turnovers. The Gamecocks entered halftime up 49-32 and were feeling loose enough to dance to the Macarena as they walked onto the court for the third quarter.

They kept the vibe going with a quick 7-2 run, but then Indiana started making 3-pointers just as South Carolina went cold on offense. The Gamecocks scored a grand total of four points between the 6:26 mark of the third quarter and the 6:25 mark of the fourth, a full quarter’s worth of time that saw the Hoosiers rip off separate 10-0 runs.

South Carolina woke up and squeezed out just enough offense to prevent the most stunning upset of the tournament. All-American center Kamilla Cardoso was, unsurprisingly, involved, finishing the game with 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting, seven rebounds, four assists, three blocks and zero turnovers.

Indiana just kept coming, though, and had the score at 74-72 in the final minute. South Carolina guard Raven Johnson deflated those hopes with a 3-pointer to go up five with 53 seconds left, then made a free throw to put her team up four with 21 seconds left.

You will notice the Indiana defense leaving Johnson alone as she stands at the perimeter. Johnson, who entered Friday shooting 32.3% from deep, certainly did.

“Nobody can sag off me this year,” Johnson said after the game, per The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach. “I take that very personal.”

Johnson had one of her better games of the season, scoring 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting and 3-for-3 from deep, plus six assists, five rebounds and two steals.

You rarely see an opponent out-rebound South Carolina, but Indiana came close to doing it; the Gamecocks beat the Hoosiers 32-30 on the boards. Every Indiana starter scored in double figures, though All-American Mackenzie Holmes had a quieter night, going 5-of-12 against the South Carolina frontcourt.

It was uncomfortable, but in the end, it was one more win for South Carolina. They will face another stiff challenge in the Elite Eight against No. 3 seed Oregon State, which beat No. 2 Notre Dame 70-65 earlier Friday.