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The impact of Kamilla Cardoso’s suspension on the NCAA Tournament after the South Carolina-LSU brawl

The rivalry between SEC foes LSU and South Carolina reached a new level when an altercation occurred during the conference championship game on Sunday. Multiple players were ejected, with Gamecocks center Kamilla Cardoso receiving a suspension for the first game of the NCAA Tournament, as confirmed by The Athletic on Monday.

Curious about what transpired between these two national title contenders and how it might affect their March Madness campaigns? Here’s a breakdown of the scuffle on Sunday and its potential implications:

What’s the background?

An intense game between these championship contenders in late January set the stage for their postseason clash. South Carolina, after trailing by 5 points at halftime, managed to secure a 76-70 victory. Both teams entered the conference tournament final following emotional semifinal wins. South Carolina narrowly defeated Tennessee, propelled by Kamilla Cardoso’s exceptional 3-pointer – her first career three – while LSU played for teammate Last-Tear Poa, who left the previous game on a stretcher due to a concussion.

What occurred on Sunday?

Prior to the incident, players engaged in verbal exchanges and moments of physicality that escalated into a scuffle. LSU’s Angel Reese and Cardoso were at odds throughout the game, with Reese pulling Cardoso’s hair and Cardoso shoving Reese. An intentional foul was called on Reese for elbowing Cardoso in the face, leading to her ejection. The scuffle erupted late in the game when LSU’s Flau’jae Johnson tugged at an opponent’s jersey, resulting in a series of confrontations.

Following the conflict, benches emptied and chaos ensued, with even a fan entering the court before being escorted out by authorities.

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Who was ejected and why?

After a lengthy delay, Johnson was ejected for an intentional foul, and Cardoso was also ejected for her involvement in the scuffle. Players from both benches who left their designated areas were also ejected, excluding a couple of South Carolina players.

Why was Cardoso suspended?

Cardoso received a suspension for fighting, a violation of NCAA rules. Other ejected players were not suspended as they were not tossed out for fighting.

Will her absence impact South Carolina in the NCAA Tournament?

Cardoso’s absence in the opening tournament game may not heavily impact South Carolina, given their strong position as the No. 1 overall seed. They are expected to face a much weaker No. 16 seed.

Watkins is likely to step up to compensate for Cardoso’s absence, with her decent averages in points and rebounds.

Post-game reactions

Players and coaches reflected on the intense game, with varying perspectives on the scuffle. Apologies were exchanged, and lessons were learned from the incident.

Cardoso even took to social media to express regret for her actions and emphasize a commitment to respectful conduct in the future.

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(Photo: Eakin Howard / Getty Images)


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