South Carolina tops Virginia to clinch fifth straight trip to Sweet 16

College Sports
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A’ja Wilson had 25 points and 11 rebounds in her last-ever college home game to lead South Carolina to its fifth consecutive trip to the Sweet 16 with a 66-56 victory over No. 10 seeded Virginia in the women’s NCAA Tournament’s Albany Regional on Sunday night.
  
Wilson, the three-time Southeastern Conference player of the year, posted her 23rd double-double of the season and 53rd of her career for the Gamecocks (28-6).
  
And the second-seeded Gamecocks needed every one of Wilson’s points to push past Virginia (19-14).
  
Up 30-25 at the half, South Carolina opened up a 12-point lead in the third period before the Cavaliers cut it to 46-40 with 10 minutes left. Virginia still trailed just 52-47 after Dominique Toussaint’s driving bucket with 6:39 to play.
  
That’s when Doniyah Cliney hit a high-arching 3-pointer from the right corner and Wilson added two short jumpers to put the Gamecocks in front by double digits. Virginia could not respond.
  
Wilson came out of the game for good with 34.5 seconds left to a standing ovation from the late-night crowd. She hugged head coach Dawn Staley before standing on the sidelines and gabbing with the training staff as time ticked away. She waved to the appreciative fans who cheered her every move the past four seasons.
  
Wilson added three of her team’s five blocks and three assists in her final game on her home court. The Gamecocks have gone 62-4 at home with Wilson on the roster.
  
South Carolina has reached the round of 16 for the past five seasons – all four of those with Wilson – and six of the past seven years.
  
Virginia was seeking its first regional semifinal since 2010. The Cavaliers hung tough most of the game despite going up against Staley, the greatest women’s athlete in Virginia athletics who led the program to three Final Fours when she played from 1989-92.
  
Toussaint and J’Kyra Brown had 16 points each to lead Virginia.
  
BIG PICTURE
  
Virginia: The Cavaliers showed tenacity and grit in their first two NCAA games since their last appearance in 2010. With three of their top five scorers from this season sophomores, including leading scorer Dominique Toussaint, Virginia will look to continue making strides in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
  
South Carolina: The Gamecocks out-talented the competition – perhaps even out-Wilsoned them – in two home NCAA games. That won’t fly in Albany in the Sweet 16 if the defending national champions hope to make a second straight title run in a region that includes No. 1 overall seed UConn. South Carolina will need more production from point guard Tyasha Harris and Alexis Jennings, who combined to go 8-of-20 shooting in the win over Virginia.
  
UP NEXT
  
South Carolina will play either Florida State or Buffalo in the Sweet 16 on Saturday.

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