South Carolina headed to Final Four, beats Florida 77-70

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SC had just put the finishing touches on one of the more unlikely Final Four trips by a power conference team in recent memory, outlasting SEC-rival Florida to claim the East Regional, 77-70.

Kaela Davis scored 23 points and A'ja Wilson added 16 and top-seeded SC held off No. 3 seed Florida State 71-64 in a furious finish Monday night to win the Stockton Regional.

"Anyone that's in sports dreams of moments like this", Martin said. "It's not something that you start dreaming it the year you win 25 games". You dream it every single day, and the thing that you have to work towards getting better every day.

The other national semifinal game will pit No. 3 seed OR versus the victor of Sunday's South Region final between No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Kentucky. There were eight lead changes in the game's first 8:19.

Carolina jumped out to a 6-4 lead thanks to four early points from freshman Maik Kotsar.

SC guard Sindarius Thornwell grabbed the ball and hurled it into the air at Madison Square Garden. Also in double-figures for the Gamecocks are Duane Notice (10.3 PPG) and Chris Silva (10.1 PPG; 5.8 RPG). Both sides lost last weekend, so instead, SC and Florida partook in what was, on paper, a less-attractive matchup.

When Martin was handed the microphone after the victory, he shouted, "I'm going to let Sindarius do the talking because I have nothing to say". Gonzaga has established themselves as the best mid-major program in the country, but haven't won big.

Heading up the offense for SC are Sindarius Thornwell (21.4 PPG: 7.2 RPG) and PJ Dozier (13.7 PPG; 4.7 RPG). The Gators negated that with some sharpshooting from beyond the arc, hitting 7-of-12 threes in the half including five straight bookended by senior forward Justin Leon. But that's not all that went wrong for the Gators, which missed 15 straight three-pointers to end the game and went 0-for-14 from long range in the second half.

"We still got our open looks, but they just, I guess they just went farther than what they were in the first half", Leon said.

Significant stat: SC absolutely dominated inside scoring with 65 of its 77 points coming either in the paint (42) or at the line (23 of 31). "We felt like everything was going good for us, it was just the ball wasn't falling in, and we just needed a couple more stops", Thornwell said. In 17 years not to get one call at midnight that your guys did something insane or not to have to break up a fight in the locker room or deal with man, I'm going to transfer if I don't play more. This was progress for a program that hadn't won a NCAA Tournament game since the 1972-1973 season. To get there, the Gamecocks had to defeat No. 2 seed Duke in the round of 32, No. 3 seed Baylor on Friday night in the Sweet 16, and the fourth-seeded Gators, with whom they split two regular-season meetings.

Florida: This was Florida's first NCAA Tournament game against a Southeastern Conference opponent. The Gators entered the game with an all-time 44-24 record against the Gamecocks, including 1-2 under White.

Among those in attendance at Madison Square Garden were Hall of Famer Rick Barry, whose son Canyon plays for Florida, Paul McCartney and Darius Rucker. SC is also 21-8-1 ATS in their last 30 neutral-site games, and 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight Saturday games.

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