The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: Brea Beal leads Gamecocks in win over UCLA, team advances to Elite Eight

South Carolina took on UCLA at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina, on March 25, 2023. The Gamecocks struggled in the beginning, only scoring 32% of its shots in the first quarter. With some strong plays from senior guard Brea Beal, senior forward Aliyah Boston and junior center Kamilla Cardoso, the Gamecocks gained momentum. South Carolina beat the Bruins 59-43 and will progress to the Elite Eight tournament in Greenville, South Carolina, on March 27, 2023, to take on the University of Maryland. 

The South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the UCLA Bruins 59-43 in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament to advance to the next round. 

Three Gamecocks had a team-high of 10 points, including senior guard Brea Beal, who had 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists, junior center Kamilla Cardoso, who had 10 points, four rebounds and two blocks and sophomore guard Bree Hall, who had 10 points and three rebounds.

 "Bree had a great game overall," senior forward Aliyah Boston said. "Defensively, (she) was on point. Offensively, she hit big shots for us, but she was just ready to shoot the ball and attack and defend, so it was great." 

The Gamecocks struggled to hit shots throughout the first quarter but made up for it with its defense.

Beal led the team on both sides of the ball, scoring 5 points and five rebounds. South Carolina was 32% from the field and went 6/19. 

"Brea's been our utility player," South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said. "She gives us what we need at any given time. I think what I love about her is she's walking in her truth, and her confidence is at an all-time high."

The Bruins had similar struggles in offense, making only three field goals in the first quarter for 8 points. Redshirt sophomore forward Emily Bessoir led the team with 3 points and one rebound. 

South Carolina led 14-8 going into the second quarter.  

The Gamecocks slightly improved its shooting in the second, making 36% of its shots. Beal continued to dominate the game, bringing her total to 10 points, six rebounds and two assists.   

"We have a tendency to shoot ourselves in our own foot," Staley said. "Sometimes we're rushing. We're so amped up, I've got some players that just really want to win so bad. And they really think that they can do it in one possession (or) one shot." 

Defense continued to be the highlight for South Carolina, forcing eight turnovers in the first half, four of which came from the final four and a half minutes of the half.

Boston made her presence known in the paint with nine rebounds. The team went into the locker room leading 25-15. 

The Bruins started the second half aggressively, committing five fouls within the first three and a half minutes of play. Freshman forward Lina Sontag brought herself to four fouls with about three minutes left in the third quarter. 

South Carolina finally found consistent shooting success in the middle of the quarter, making five straight field goals, some which came from quick transitional play down the court. 

"We just made slight adjustments to some of our plays," Boston said. "Coach said at halftime that we were taking good shots — or taking expected shots — they just weren't falling, but we knew that they would fall in the second half."

Boston tallied 8 points and 12 rebounds through the third. Cardoso scored 8 points in the third, bringing her to a total of 10.

"Kamilla is a competitor," Staley said. "She's super athletic, she's quick and she knows how important uncontested baskets are." 

Hall found her rhythm in the fourth and had a total of 10 points and three rebounds in 16 minutes. 

All 14 Gamecocks had the opportunity to play when Staley substituted five players who had yet to see the court.

South Carolina will aim for a trip to the Final Four in a rematch against Maryland, as South Carolina defeated the Terrapins 81-56 on the road in the team's second game of the season.

The Elite Eight game will take place on Monday in Greenville's Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ESPN.