womens bb

Zia Cooke led the Gamecocks with 25 points in the Final Four loss to Stanford (Photo by Ben Solomon via Getty Images)

There was heartbreak for the women’s basketball team Friday night in the Final Four in San Antonio. The Gamecocks saw their dreams of a second national championship disappear in the final seconds of their game against Stanford as Brea Beal missed a layup and Aliyah Boston the stick back. The Gamecocks fell 66-65 to finish their season 26-5. Zia Cooke led the Gamecocks with 25 points. The Gamecocks were in in the Final Four for a third time. Earlier in the week they took care of Georgia Tech in the Sweet 16 76-65, then they demolished Texas in the Elite Eight 62-34. The Gamecocks held the Longhorns scoreless in the fourth quarter. Guard Zia Cooke was named the Most Outstanding Player of that region.

Turbulence continues around the men’s program. Last Friday head coach Frank Martin, who was on the chopping block under orders from school President Bob Caslen, was given a stay due to the involvement of some state senators and some members of the Board of Trustees. They balked at the $6.5 million buyout USC would owe Martin. Meantime, four players announced they are looking at other options. Guard Trae Hannibal and forward Jalyn McCreary entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, and guard Jermaine Couisnard and forward Keyshawn Bryant put their names in the NBA Draft pool but will not sign with agents.

It was a superb week for the baseball team. The Gamecocks swept fifth-ranked Florida at home last weekend, their first sweep of the Gators since 2006, and followed up Tuesday night with a win over Gardner-Webb. Wes Clarke continued with the long ball. He hit three more during the week and leads the nation with 14 blasts. The Gamecocks are now ranked as high as eighth nationally and are 17-6 going into their series this weekend at Georgia.

The story is quite the opposite right now for the softball team. The Gamecocks have dropped five straight games, including a 13-4 decision Thursday night at Missouri. They were swept last weekend at Texas A&M and are 0-7 in SEC play, 17-11 overall.

On the links, the top ranked women’s team is off until the SEC Championships in Birmingham April 14. But four Gamecocks played in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur this week, and two made the cut for the final round Saturday at Augusta National. The first two rounds were played at Champion’s Retreat Golf Club. Pauline Roussin-Bouchard and Anna Pelaez will play on Saturday. Roussin-Bouchard made the cut with a tie for 14th, and Pelaez got in with a tie for 21st. The top 30 from the first two rounds made the cut. Paula Kirner and Pimnipa Panthong also represented USC in the event.

The men finished ninth in the Hootie at Bulls Intercollegiate that finished up earlier this week at Awendaw. Ryan Hall led the Gamecocks with a four under par score to finish tied for eighth. NC State won the tournament. The Gamecocks will play this weekend in the Augusta Haskins Award invitational.

The men’s soccer team will be at home Saturday to play UAB. In their last outing last Saturday, the Gamecocks lost to Florida Atlantic 2-1. They are 6-6-1 overall and 0-3-1 in conference play.

The women had their match with Appalachian State last Saturday cancelled due to Covid issues with the Mountaineers. They next will play April 10 at home against Clemson. USC is 10-3 overall and 6-2 in the SEC.

The men’s tennis team is ranked 10th this week and will play at Kentucky and at Vanderbilt this weekend. Sophomore Daniel Rodrigues is ranked No. 1 in the ITA singles, the first Gamecock to earn the No. 1 ranking in program history. The Gamecocks are 11-6 overall and 6-3 in the SEC.

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