COLUMBIA, S.C. — A’ja Wilson likes to say, “you never want to play a team with a story.” But that’s exactly the situation South Carolina women’s basketball is walking into this weekend.
The No. 1-seeded Gamecocks are facing No. 12 Quinnipiac, with the Bobcats fresh off a pair of upsets and rolling into Friday’s clash with South Carolina as a Cinderella with a story and momentum.
“It can be very dangerous,” Wilson said. “They’ve got a lot of heart. Cinderella teams are very dangerous because they’ve got nothing to lose. They are very happy where they are and they beat some good teams. It’s going to be a tough game. I’m not going to look at their seed number.”
Quinnipiac moved into the Sweet 16 with a 68-65 win against Marquette and an 85-78 win against Miami, leaving the Gamecocks wary of the hot-shooting Bobcats. Wilson said the Gamecocks “can’t sleep on them” after seeing the way the Bobcats played against Miami, coming back with a barrage of 3-pointers.
“At this stage of the game, everybody is a threat,” Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley said. “There’s 16 teams left and the ones that are supposed to be here are here. We are going to approach as any other team, although they play a different style. It’s a style in which we have a while to prep for.”
Quinnipiac hit 15 threes in its win against Miami, so Staley’s game plan is focused on forcing the Bobcats to “make them two us” instead of unloading shot after shot from behind the arc.
Wilson said the Gamecocks need to stick to being themselves and not having empty possessions, as they hope to advance to an Elite 8 and then the program’s second Final Four in three season.
“I think we approach this game as showing us what March is all about,” Wilson said. “You never know who you may meet and you can go off a see. It teaches us that it is going to take heart.”