COLUMBIA, S.C. — A’ja Wilson walked into Columbia’s Wild Wing Café after South Carolina women’s basketball Arizona State on Sunday and heard screaming immediately.
The Gamecocks junior star turned and saw why: The South Carolina men’s team was beating Duke.
“I was like, ‘Oh my god, our guys are up,’” Wilson said. “It was a bad day to be a Devil, whether it was Sun or Blue on Sunday. I love the feeling.”
In the same evening, the Gamecocks women’s team advanced to its fourth straight Sweet 16 with a win against the Sun Devils of Arizona State and the USC men’s team made its first Sweet 16 in 44 years by knocking of the No. 2-seeded Duke Blue Devils.
South Carolina is one of four schools with both its men’s and women’s teams in the Sweet 16, joining Baylor, Oregon and UCLA.
Coach Dawn Staley said she tuned in to catch the men’s game Sunday night, saying it had her on edge and that it was “incredible to see it unfold” for Frank Martin’s team.
“A lot of people talk about Duke, but it was all about South Carolina,” Staley said. “That was happening out on there on the floor on both sides of the ball, they wanted it more and they executed it more. I thought Frank came up with a game plan that his team executed and made all of us proud.”
South Carolina held a pep rally for the teams on Tuesday outside Colonial Life Arena, celebrating the accomplishment of both. They now will seek to advance to play deeper into their respective tournaments, as the men take on Baylor at 7:29 p.m. Friday in New York City and the women play Quinnipiac at 4 p.m. Saturday in Stockton, Calif.
“We are really close with our men’s team,” Wilson said. “It’s great to see them do well and see them coming in and they are practicing and we are practicing, too. It’s a lot of fun to have both teams in the Sweet 16 and having them go through this experience. They work really hard.”