Fight Late in South Carolina-LSU SEC Title Game Leads to Several Ejections: ‘No One Wants to Be a Part of That’ |

South Carolina forward Kamilla Cardoso was one of six players ejected from the SEC championship game after she shoved LSU’s Flau’jae Johnson to the floor late in the fourth quarter of the Gamecocks’ 79-72 win.

via: The Athletic

The incident, which occurred with 2:08 to play with South Carolina leading 73-66, began after LSU guard Flau’jae Johnson stopped the progress of South Carolina’s MiLaysia Fulwiley as she dribbled up the court in transition. Johnson made contact with South Carolina’s Ashlyn Watkins. Gamecocks center Kamilla Cardoso then knocked Johnson to the ground.

Players ran to midcourt before coaches separated their respective teams. A fan, whom ESPN’s broadcast identified as Johnson’s brother, left the stands and leapt over the scorer’s table, and was briefly on the court before police escorted him off the floor.

After a delay that lasted around 20 minutes, officials called Johnson for committing an intentional foul and ejected Cardoso. They also ejected every player from each team’s bench for leaving their respective bench areas, except for South Carolina’s Sania Feagin, who did not leave the Gamecocks’ bench area, and Te-Hina Paopao, who was already at the scorer’s table to sub into the game. Feagin replaced Cardoso on the floor after the ejection.

The ejections left South Carolina with six players and LSU with five for the final two minutes. The Gamecocks went on to win 79-72 to improve to 32-0.

“I just want to apologize to the basketball community,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said during an on-court interview with ESPN. “You know when you’re playing a championship game like this in our league things get heated. No bad intentions.

“Their emotions got so far ahead of them that sometimes these things happen. So I want to apologize for us playing a part in that, because that’s not who we are and that’s not what we’re about. But I’m happy for the players that were able to finish the game and get us another championship.”

Both teams will not play again until the NCAA Tournament, so any potential suspensions could apply to their first-round games. When asked if she would have any players suspended for the Tigers’ opening-round NCAA Tournament game, LSU coach Kim Mulkey said, “We didn’t have any ejections. They had an ejection. They told me Cardoso was the only one ejected for fighting.”

“But my question is, I don’t really know the rules, why weren’t the coaches tossed if they left the bench?” Mulkey said. “Wouldn’t that be a hell of an ending. But I guess it’s just the players that leave the bench area. I don’t know. It’s ugly. It’s not good. No one wants to be a part of that. No one wants to see that ugliness.”

Mulkey called Cardoso’s shove of Johnson “uncalled for” and cited the size difference between Cardoso, who is 6-foot-7, and Johnson, who is 5-foot-10.

“I can tell you this, I wish she would have pushed Angel Reese,” Mulkey said. “Don’t push a kid — you (are) 6-8. Don’t push somebody that little.”

ESPN said on its television broadcast that Cardoso, having been disqualified for fighting, will be forced to miss the Gamecocks’ NCAA Tournament opener.

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