PARIS (AP) — Dawn Staley could not have envisioned the flashy season-opening performance that new-look South Carolina put on to beat Notre Dame in the NCAA’s first women’s game in Paris.
Kamilla Cardoso had 20 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks and freshman MiLaysia Fulwiley had 17 points to lead the sixth-ranked Gamecocks to a 100-71 victory over the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish on Monday.
South Carolina lost seven seniors from last season, including the core that reached three straight Final Fours and won the 2022 national title: WNBA No. 1 overall draft pick Aliyah Boston, Zia Cooke and Brea Beal.
“It was really a blank canvas,” said Staley, who posed in front of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, “Mona Lisa,” at the Louvre a few days before the game. “But the chemistry that their building is very special.”
Cardoso is a 6-foot-7 senior who came off the bench behind Boston the past two seasons. Now, she has the middle all to herself and was dominant for South Carolina, hitting nine of 14 shots for her 17th career double-double.
Fulwiley, offered by Staley as a seventh-grader, is a jet-quick guard with dynamic moves that were on display in Paris. The freshman had a drive through Notre Dame’s defense where she put the ball behind her back, kept it and finished with a flip shot as South Carolina fans who flocked across the pond to watch the game went wild.
Even the great Magic Johnson was talking about the move on social media.
“That move made everybody notice,” said Fulwiley, who also had six assists and six steals. “I hope they keep watching.”
Hannah Hidalgo, a five-star freshman ranked as the fifth-best college prospect by ESPN.com, led Notre Dame with 31 points.
Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey said the game got away from her group in the second quarter.
“We’ll be OK,” Ivey said. “We’ll go back to the drawing board and will get better from this game.”
THE BIG PICTURE
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish were without star guard Olivia Miles, who averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game a year ago, as she continues her rehab from a knee injury sustained during the ACC Tournament last March. When Miles returns, she and Hidalgo should form a high-scoring backcourt.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks used defense and a relentless pace to do what they have done much of the last four seasons — wear down opponents. Notre Dame shot 50% and had just two turnovers the first 10 minutes. South Carolina clamped down in the second quarter, where the Irish were just 4-of-15 shooting with six turnovers.
Hidalgo put on an impressive show in a losing effort. She hit 10 of 24 shots and made half of Notre Dame’s six 3-pointers. Hidalgo also had three assists and three steals in a team-high 37 minutes. “She plays with a fearlessness that’s just unreal,” Ivey said.
Notre Dame: Visits NJIT on Sunday.
South Carolina: Hosts No. 12 Maryland on Sunday.
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