South Carolina reaches 2nd straight NCAA

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina and coach Dawn Staley are heading to consecutive NCAA tournaments for the first time in a decade.

The fourth-seeded Gamecocks (23-7) will open against South Dakota State (25-7) in the Norfolk regional. South Carolina last played in back-to-back NCAAs in 2002 and 2003. They reached the round of 16 a season ago before losing to Stanford and Staley built on that run all offseason to make it back this winter.

South Carolina started 10-0 matching the best start in program history. It won a school record 11 games in the Southeastern Conference. And they did it with Staley's trademark, in-your-face defensive style. They've given up just 49.5 points a game, the country's fourth-best defense. Senior guard Ieasia Walker was voted the SEC's defensive player of the year.

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