Kansas players celebrate after defeating South Carolina 75-69 in a second-round game in the women's NCAA college basketball tournament, Monday, March 25, 2013, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/ Brennan Linsley)
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) The Kansas Jayhawks almost played themselves out of the women's NCAA basketball tournament by losing seven of their last 11 games. Once in, they sure know how to win.
The Jayhawks were chanting "Sweet 16!" for the second straight season Monday night after senior Monica Engelman scored a career-high 27 points and Kansas became just the second No. 12 seed to advance to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament with a 75-69 upset of fourth-seeded South Carolina.
"For me, Angel made it easy," Engelman said of teammate Angel Goodrich. "I mean, she's a great point guard, she can push the ball so she makes everyone else want to sprint up the floor and get easy buckets in transition."
Goodrich's speed allowed the Jayhawks to push the pace much faster than the Gamecocks are used to.
"That's what we wanted to do, we want to control the tempo," Goodrich said. "When we run we have fun. We wanted to catch them off-balance, catch them when they're not ready, because when they set up, they're really good."
Goodrich added 20 points to go with her eight assists as the Jayhawks (20-13) joined San Francisco in 1996 as the only No. 12 seeds to follow up a win in the opening round with another in the second. No. 12 seeds are now 2-15 in the second round since the women's field was expanded to 64 teams in 1994.
The Jayhawks moved on to Norfolk, Va., where they face the winner of Tuesday's game between Notre Dame and Iowa in the regional semifinals Sunday.
Fourth-seeded South Carolina (25-8) was denied in its quest for its 26th win, which would have been the program's most since joining the Southeastern Conference in 1991-92.
"It was a hard-fought, physical game," South Carolina forward Aleighsa Welch said. "It was really and up and down tempo."
That's not the Gamecocks' style. They gave up just 49.5 points a game and Kansas nearly had that by halftime.
Still, the first meeting between the two schools was an instant classic, a one-possession game in the final 30 seconds even though South Carolina didn't score again after Ashley Bruner's bucket with 2:52 left tied it at 69.
Bruner and Welch scored 16 points each and pulled down 12 and 11 rebounds, respectively. Elem Ibiam also had a double-double for South Carolina with 12 points and 10 boards.
Yet it's Kansas, which has won four straight games at the Coors Events Center, that's returning to the round of 16 after getting there last year as an 11 seed.
Goodrich's four-point play capped a 9-2 run that gave the Jayhawks their biggest lead to that point at 59-52 with 12 1/2 minutes remaining. The Gamecocks scored the next seven points to tie it up before Engelman sank a jumper and then a layup.
Kansas got a major scare when center Carolyn Davis limped off the court, favoring her left leg, after picking up her fourth foul with 6:40 left. A trainer took off her brace that protects the knee she injured last year, forcing her to miss the NCAA tournament. Welch sank both free throws to tie it at 65.
"It's always a scare to see someone go down and when I looked at her, she kind of just held her knee and I was just kind of like, `Dang!' I didn't know what to think, really," Goodrich said. "But for her to get up and stand up, it relieved me a little bit.
"When that happens, you've got to stay composed and think we've still got time on the clock, we've still got a game to finish. But I'm glad she got back up and she got back in the game and she did what she needed to do."
It was 67-all when Davis returned with 3:50 remaining. She quickly denied Bruner's jumper, and her bucket with 2:30 left put Kansas ahead for good at 71-69.
Iseasia Walker missed a 3-pointer for South Carolina that would have tied at 72 it with less than a half-minute remaining and Kansas sealed the win at the free throw line.
Engelman's previous career high was 26 points on Feb. 13 against TCU. She had 18 points - double her average - by halftime, and she took over after the Gamecocks used a 10-0 run to take a 28-21 lead.
She swished a jumper to end South Carolina's streak, then added big basket and after big basket.
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said having Sancheon White, her best defender, play just 8 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, was a big part of Engelman's big night.
"It was her defensive assignment. We could have used her speed, but when you're playing two freshmen (Khadijah Sessions and Tiffany Mitchell) in a big game like this, it's pretty difficult to ask them to do things they haven't done.
"She was hot. When a player gets going like that, it's hard to stop."
Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson suggested something else played a part on Engelman's career night. She said Engelman's mother finally made it to Boulder to watch her daughter play after being stuck in a blizzard for a day in the Colorado plains.
"That could be a little bit of it," Engelman agreed. "A little bit of that, and I needed to be aggressive."
That aggression helped wear down the Gamecocks by game's end.
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BOULDER, Colo. – For the fourth time in school history and the second time in the last two seasons, the Kansas women’s basketball team is headed to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament after a 75-69 upset victory over No. 17/14 South Carolina Monday night at the Coors Events Center thanks to a career-best 27 points by senior Monica Engelman.
With the victory, Kansas (20-13) will now face the winner of the Notre Dame-Iowa game, which is scheduled for Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. CT, in Iowa City, Iowa, in the round of 16 at the Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va. That game will take place Sunday, March 31, at either noon or 1:30 p.m. CT. With the win, Kansas became the first No. 12 seed to win a second round game in the NCAA Tournament since 1996.
The two teams traded the first six baskets of the game with one of Kansas’ being a three-pointer, as the Jayhawks jumped out to a 7-6 lead. KU followed with an 8-0 run, thanks to six points from Engelman, to push its lead to 13-6 with 13:34 left in the first half.
South Carolina (25-8) countered with an 8-2 run, but Kansas held on to a slim, 15-14, lead. Kansas remained in control until the 8:48 mark in the first half when Ieasia Walker converted a fast-break layup off a CeCe Harper turnover, as the Gamecocks took the lead, 22-21. Walker’s basket was part of a 10-0 run, as South Carolina claimed a 28-21 advantage with 6:55 on the clock.
Engelman shot Kansas back into the game, posting 18 points in the first half, and Angel Goodrich added a driving layup in the final 33 seconds to put Kansas in the lead, 42-41, at the half. The 42 first-half points equaled KU’s most in NCAA Tournament play, matching its total against Texas on March 18, 1996.
With the game tied, 50-50, USC committed three-straight shooting fouls, Engelman and Chelsea Gardner combined to shoot 5-for-6 from the line to take a 55-50 lead. After a South Carolina basket, Goodrich fouled on her made three-point try and converted the four-point play for a 59-52 lead.
South Carolina went on a 7-0 run and tied the game, 59-59. With the game still tied, 65-65, at the 6:40 mark, and Gardner and Carolyn Davis with four fouls apiece, the two teams combined to score eight points over the next four minutes for a 69-69 tie. However in the final two and half minutes, it was all Kansas as the Jayhawks finished on a 6-0 run for the win.
In addition to Engelman’s game-high 27 points, Kansas was led by Goodrich with 20 points and Davis added 12. Gardner collected 12 rebounds and tossed in five points. In the last three days, No. 12-seed Kansas has knocked off No. 5-seed Colorado and No. 4-seed South Carolina in the Norfolk Region.