SOUTH CAROLINA coach Dawn Staley climbed the ladder, snipped the final strand of net and raised it as thousands of garnet-clad fans cheered.
Taking in the scene, she mouthed one word: "Unbelievable."
Believe it. Staley and the Gamecocks are headed to their first Final Four.
Tiffany Mitchell scored seven of her 21 points in the final 2 minutes, and South Carolina beat Florida State, yesterday, 80-74, in the Greensboro Regional final.
"It put South Carolina on the map," Staley said. "The regular season that we had, the success that we've had in [the Southeastern] Conference, when you hurdle over being a regional champion and going to the Final Four, it puts your name in history. So it was a history-making game for us."
Alaina Coates finished with 14 points, A'ja Wilson added 10 and Asia Dozier hit four free throws in the final 20 seconds for the top-seeded Gamecocks (34-2).
Playing from behind for most of the day, they shot 61 percent while rallying to win their seventh straight and keep the best season in school history going.
Next stop: Tampa, Florida, to face the Oklahoma City Regional winner, Notre Dame, on April 5.
"I just remember [Saturday] night watching the Kentucky men doing it, and thinking, 'That could be us tomorrow afternoon,' '' Mitchell said. "To actually be in this moment and experience it means a lot."
Leticia Romero scored 13 points and Brittany Brown had 12 for the second-seeded Seminoles (32-5). The best season in program history ended after they set the school record for wins and reached their first Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
* At Oklahoma City, Lindsay Allen scored 23 points to help top-seeded Notre Dame (35-2) defeat Baylor, 77-68, in the Oklahoma City regional final and reach its fifth consecutive Final Four.