Who is Kamilla Cardoso? South Carolina senior keeps undefeated season alive with first career 3-pointer

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South Carolina lost five starters from its 2023 squad, which finished the regular season undefeated β€” but lost to Caitlin Clark and Iowa in the Final Four. This year was supposed to be a rebuilding season.

Instead, the Gamecocks decided to go undefeated again.

Their run almost came to an end in the SEC tournament semifinals Saturday against Tennessee. The Volunteers battled with the top team in the country and led 73-71 with just one second to go. What they didn’t expect was the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year to score her first-ever 3-pointer.

Meet Kamilla Cardoso, the senior whose buzzer-beater sent South Carolina to the SEC tournament championship game.

MORE: Complete guide to 2024 Women’s NCAA Tournament

Who is Kamilla Cardoso?

Cardoso spoiled Tennessee’s near-upset at the last second.

On Raven Johnson’s throw-in, the WNBA draft prospect had no time to think about where to pass the ball. Instead, she took a shot from behind the arc. “Shoot that blanky-blank,” Dawn Staley told her.

It was meant to be. She drilled her first career 3-pointer to secure the Gamecocks’ 37th straight conference victory.

The SEC Defensive Player of the Year recorded 13 points and five rebounds in the semifinals game. Safe to say three of those points will be remembered more than others.

Gamecock loyalists are no stranger to the 6-7 Cardoso. She was last season’s SEC Sixth Player of the Year and was silently efficient. While not a starter, she averaged 8.5 rebounds, the second-most on the team behind the one and only Aliyah Boston. She added an average of of 9.8 points per game, the third-most for the Gamecocks. 

She’s even better in her senior season, averaging 14.2 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game.

Cardoso played her freshman season at Syracuse before transferring down south to Columbia.

South Carolina vs. Tennessee score

The Gamecocks’ hail Mary sealed the deal in their 74-73 win over the Volunteers. 

The game wasn’t supposed to be close. South Carolina outscored Tennessee 36-23 in the first half, but Rocky Top rallied in the final frame, going on a 17-5 run to tie it up with four minutes to go. From there on out, it was back-and-forth, and the Volunteers took their first lead with 25 seconds to go with a Rickea Jackson layup.

Two missed free throws by Jasmine Powell gave the Gamecocks the ball back with just a few seconds to go, and a foul on Tennessee’s Jewel Spear allowed South Carolina to in-bound the ball. The rest is history.

MORE: Caitlin Clark and Iowa advance to fourth straight Big Ten title game

Jackson, a fifth-year senior, laid it all out for Tennessee with 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Spear added 21 points and four rebounds.

South Carolina freshman MiLaysia Fulwiley tied Cardoso with 13 points, while Raven Johnson recorded 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds.

Where is Kamilla Cardoso from?

Cardoso hails from Montes Claros, Brazil. 

She plays for her home nation’s national team, winning gold with them in the 2022 South American Championship and the 2023 FIBA AmeriCup. She missed time with the Gamecocks in February to head back home and compete in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, though Brazil lost all three games.

Cardoso’s journey from Brazil to Columbia, South Carolina, is one part of what makes her stand out. She left her hometown at age 15 and moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to pursue a career in the NCAA and WNBA. She heartbreakingly left her mother and sister behind. Cardoso didn’t even speak English when she arrived.

It was all worth it, though. She won an NCAA championship in 2022 and is now considered a top pick in the WNBA Draft, should she declare.

MORE: Latest women’s March Madness bracket projections: Iowa on the No. 1 line

Who are Kamilla Cardoso’s parents?

No day was better than March 2 of this year, though. Staley and the program surprised Cardoso by bringing her mother, Janete Soares, and older sister, Jessica Silva, in town for South Carolina’s Senior Day game against Tennessee. They hadn’t seen her play in real life since she left Brazil in 2015 and got to talk her out at the senior ceremony.

There was no better place for Soares and Silva to be than in the crowd for Cardoso’s victory shot in the SEC tournament semifinals.

SEC women’s basketball tournament schedule 2024

The SEC women’s basketball tournament began Wednesday, March 6, and will conclude Sunday, March 10. The tournament is held at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C.

Wednesday, March 6: First round

Game
Game 1: No. 12 Kentucky 64, No. 13 Georgia 50
Game 2: No. 11 Florida 66, No. 14 Missouri 60

Thursday, March 7: Second round

Game
Game 3: No. 9 Texas A&M 72, No. 8 Mississippi State 56
Game 4: No. 5 Tennessee 76, No. 12 Kentucky 62
Game 5: No. 7 Auburn 67, No. 10 Arkansas 48
Game 6: No. 11 Florida 62, No. 6 Vanderbilt 59

Friday, March 8: Quarterfinals

Game
Game 7: No. 1 South Carolina 79, No. 9 Texas A&M 68
Game 8: No. 5 Tennessee 83, No. 4 Alabama 61
Game 9: No. 2 LSU 78, No. 7 Auburn 48
Game 10: No. 3 Ole Miss 84, No. 11 Florida 74

Saturday, March 9: Semifinals

Game Time (ET) TV channel
Semifinal 1: No. 1 South Carolina 74, No. 5 Tennessee 73 4:30 p.m. ESPNU, Sling
Semifinal 2: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Ole Miss Approx. 7 p.m. ESPNU, Sling

Sunday, March 10: Championship

Game Time (ET) TV channel
Championship: No. 1 South Carolina vs. Semifinal 2 winner 3 p.m. ESPN, Sling

WNBA Draft order 2024

The 2024 WNBA Draft takes place April 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, it will be a seated event with fans in attendance for the first time since 2016. Tickets for the event sold-out within 15 minutes of going on-sale.

MORE: Tracking the WNBA Draft decisions of college basketball’s biggest stars

First Round

  1. Indiana Fever
  2. Los Angeles Sparks
  3. Chicago Sky (from Phoenix)
  4. Los Angeles Sparks (from Seattle)
  5. Dallas Wings (from Chicago)
  6. Washington Mystics
  7. Minnesota Lynx
  8. Chicago Sky (from Atlanta, via Los Angeles)
  9. Dallas Wings
  10. Connecticut Sun
  11. New York Liberty
  12. Atlanta Dream (from Las Vegas, via Los Angeles)

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