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Top-ranked Gamecocks women's basketball season ends over coronavirus

They left Greenville’s Bon Secours Wellness Arena amazed at what they witnessed. South Carolina fans  “They play just half that good in two weeks,” South Carolina fans said, “and they won’t be touched.”

That’s where it will remain for the No. 1 Gamecocks’ women’s basketball team. The NCAA Women’s Tournament has been canceled due to the outbreak of coronavirus, leaving one of the greatest seasons in program history a “what-if.”

"As competitors, we are certainly disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to contend for a second national championship," coach Dawn Staley said in a statement. "That said, it will not diminish the way we look at our season, how we value our body of work over the last few four months. We have measured ourselves against the best in the country over that time, and will embrace and relish that accomplishment."

The NCAA announced the decision late Thursday, along with cancelling the men’s NCAA Tournament, the College World Series and all winter and spring sports.

USC (32-1) dominated No. 9 Mississippi State, 76-62, in the SEC Women’s Tournament championship last week and was primed to challenge for its second national championship in four years. With a dynamic and stunningly talented team that had won 26 straight games and never lost a game against SEC competition, plus a pre-Final Four schedule that ensured USC would not play out of the state before it got to the final weekend, another title seemed to be within reach.

Now that perfect game against Mississippi State will be the season-ender. The Gamecocks were nearly perfect through 40 minutes, crushing a team they only beat by two points in the regular season.

Follow David Cloninger on Twitter @DCPandC.

From Rock Hill, S.C., David Cloninger covers Gamecock sports. He will not rest until he owns every great film and song ever recorded.

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