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S. Carolina captures women’s cage title

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – The South Carolina Gamecocks fended off giant-killers Mississippi State University 67-55 on Sunday to win the coveted US women’s collegiate basketball crown.

South Carolina led by as many as 14 points in the second half and survived a charge from Mississippi State’s Bulldogs in the NCAA Tournament final in Dallas.

South Carolina, making their second Final Four appearance under head coach Dawn Staley, won their first national title.

Staley, a three-time Olympic gold medalist for the United States, lost in the Final Four twice as a player at the University of Virginia, in 1990 and 1992. She guided the Gamecocks to the Final Four as their coach two years ago before they lost in the national semi-final.

“It means that I can check off one of the things that has been a void in my career,’’ Staley said. “It’s one of two opportunities that I saw women play when I was younger: national championship games and Olympics. Those were the things that I held near and dear to me when I was growing up.’’