South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso has injury scare in Final Four, scores 22 in 23 minutes

CLEVELAND (AP) — South Carolina star center Kamilla Cardoso briefly exited the Gamecocks’ 78-59 win over North Carolina State in the women’s Final Four on Friday night with a right leg injury.

The scare did little to slow Cardoso down. The 6-foot-7 Cardoso dominated down low, finishing with 22 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes as the unbeaten Gamecocks advanced to their second national title game in three years. South Carolina will play either Caitlin Clark and Iowa or Paige Bueckers and UConn on Sunday, and Cardoso’s health could be a concern.

South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said afterward Cardoso was “all right.”

“I knew she was going to be OK,” Gamecocks forward Ashlyn Watkins said. “Kamilla is a warrior. She’s not going to let an injury like that affect her. She’s going to push and be ready for Sunday.”

Cardoso scored 12 straight points in the second quarter and was driving toward the basket late in the period when she tumbled to the floor. She got up and limped down the floor before committing a foul at the other end with 1:39 left. She was replaced by Watkins.

Cardoso went back to the training room to be evaluated. She returned at the start of the second half, having replaced a white sleeve on her right leg with a black one.

South Carolina took off in the third quarter with Cardoso back on the floor. The Gamecocks outscored the Wolfpack 29-6 in the period.

Cardoso made the last of her 10 field goals on a layup with 2:35 left in the third that put South Carolina up 19. She headed to the bench with 1:57 remaining in the period and watched the final quarter on the sideline with the game well in hand.

The Brazilian player jogged off the floor shortly after the final buzzer, waving to the crowd.

“She’s going to play through some pain,” South Carolina guard Te-Hina Paopao said. “That’s who she is and she loves playing the game. So she’s going to push through that. Knowing we have one more game, she’s definitely going to be OK.”


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