COLUMBIA, S.C. — A’ja Wilson scored 21 points, including the put back that gave South Carolina the lead for good and the free throws that sealed it, to help the No. 1 seed Gamecocks beat eight-seed Arizona State 71-68 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night.
Sophie Bruner missed a heavily contested 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied it.
Arizona State (20-13) scored 11 straight points to take a 68-67 lead with two minutes to go, but Wilson put back her own miss with 46.8 seconds to go that gave South Carolina (29-4) a 69-68 advantage.
Kaela Davis had a steal on the Sun Devils’ next-to-last possession and Wilson converted the two free throws.
Wilson also had 11 rebounds, while Davis added 20 points for South Carolina, which has advanced to the Sweet 16 for a fourth straight year. The Gamecocks avoided being the first No. 1 seed to lose in the second round since Michigan State beat Duke in 2009.
South Carolina, which was already playing without Alaina Coates, may have more injuries to worry about. Starting guard Allisha Gray had to be carried off the court after hurting her knee late in the game.
Brunner led Arizona State with 20 points and nine rebounds. Sabrina Haines scored 16, including the 3-pointer that gave the Sun Devils the late lead.
The Gamecocks trailed through the entire third quarter. But then their defense cranked out and the Sun Devils lost their cool.
Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne picked up a technical as she called a timeout and yelled at a referee with 7:59 left in the fourth quarter. Her team was called for five fouls in less than three minutes in the fourth quarter.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils have made 12 NCAA tournaments under Thorne, but have advanced to the Sweet 16 just three times. Arizona State had another good shooting day from outside, making 45.5 percent of its 3-pointers.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have been to six straight NCAA Tournaments with Staley, making it to the Sweet 16 five times. This is the fourth year South Carolina is a top seed. The Gamecocks have lost in the Sweet 16 two of the past three years. Sunday’s attendance in Columbia was 8,276 people — well below South Carolina’s nation-leading average of 12,853. The Gamecocks men’s team was playing in the second round of the NCAAs too, about 100 miles away in Greenville.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks head out to Stockton, California, to play the winner of Monday’s game between No. 4 seed Miami and 12th seeded Quinnipiac in a regional semifinal Saturday.