Behind USC’s Stunning Win: A Closer Look at Kamilla Cardoso’s Buzzer Beater

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Written By Blue & Gold NLR Team





In a thrilling twist of fate, South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso stole the spotlight with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, clinching a heart-stopping win against Tennessee in the SEC tournament semifinals.

The shot left both USC and Tennessee fans alike questioning: why wasn’t Cardoso guarded? Tennessee coach Kellie Harper addressed the matter in a postgame conference, attributing the defensive lapse to a miscommunication rather than a planned strategy.

With just 1.1 seconds on the clock and Tennessee holding a slim two-point lead, Harper chose not to call a timeout, aiming to maintain defensive integrity. However, the defensive setup overlooked Cardoso’s ability to shoot from the perimeter.

On USC’s decisive possession, Tennessee’s center Tamari Key, responsible for defending Cardoso, stayed in the paint, while top scorer Rickea Jackson was positioned on the wing. Neither player contested Cardoso’s shot, allowing her to sink the game-winning basket uncontested.

Postgame, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley revealed that the original plan was for Te-Hina Paopao to take the final shot. However, due to Tennessee’s effective defense against Paopao throughout the game, Staley instructed Cardoso to take the shot instead, albeit with some colorful language.

The buzzer-beating 3-pointer marked a significant milestone for Cardoso, being her first successful attempt from beyond the arc in her college career. Staley expressed optimism that this moment would inspire Cardoso to incorporate more perimeter shots into her game going forward.

With this remarkable victory, USC advances to the SEC championship game against LSU, promising another thrilling showdown.

As the excitement of this electrifying game settles, Cardoso’s clutch performance serves as a poignant reminder of the unpredictability and thrill that characterize college basketball tournaments.

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