Angel Reese vs. Kamilla Cardoso: What LSU, South Carolina stars said about SEC championship fight

Tempers flared late in the championship game of the SEC women’s basketball tournament, resulting in a fight between LSU and South Carolina.

At the center of the fracas was South Carolina star Kamilla Cardoso, who, after shoving of LSU guard Flaujae Johnson to the floor, was among the 10 players ejected as a result of the incident. LSU star Angel Reese, who battled with Cardoso throughout the game, was not disciplined, as she notably walked toward the Tigers’ bench as the situation escalated.

Despite playing the final two minutes out without the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, South Carolina held on for a 79-72 win — its eight SEC Tournament title in 10 years. Once the dust settled, both Cardoso and Reese spoke out about what transpired in Sunday’s championship game.

What did Cardoso and Reese have to say about the bench-clearing skirmish? Here is what both star players offered following the game.

MORE: Women’s bracket projections: Iowa jumps to No. 1 line

What Angel Reese said about SEC championship fight

In the immediate aftermath of LSU’s seven-point loss, Reese spoke with reporters on the intensity of the game, saying of the altercation: “It turned up and it went ways that we didn’t want to go.”

More than anything, the senior forward expressed pride in her team’s effort and was passionate in delivering a message on her team’s fearlessness.

“We’re not scared of South Carolina and I’m gonna repeat that: We’re not scared of South Carolina,” she said. “And a lot of people are scared of them and we came in and battled and battled to the end. And of course we came up short, but we’ll see them again or whoever will see them again.”

Hours later, Reese took to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to address criticism of her decision to walk away while the altercation escalated.

“As a person at my STATUS, sometimes you have to walk away from certain situations,” Reese wrote. “Mind you the play before that I had rolled my ankle AGAIN and was already walking to the bench. I ALWAYS ride for mine. I’m super proud of this team & super excited for [March].”

Reese’s fame skyrocketed in the aftermath of the 2023 national championship game, in which she led the Tigers to a 102-85 win — and then hit Caitlin Clark with John Cena’s “You can’t see me” gesture. Among NCAA women’s basketball players, she is second only to Clark with an NIL valuation of $1.7 million, per On3’s rankings.

What Kamilla Cardoso said about SEC championship fight

Cardoso was barred from participating in South Carolina’s on-court celebration due to her ejection from the SEC title game. The 22-year-old senior also was not one of the two South Carolina players made available to the media, but she did issue a statement later Sunday.

Posting to X, Cardoso issued an apology for her role in Sunday’s incident.

I would like to extend my sincerest apologies for my actions during today’s game. My behavior was not representative of who I am as a person or the South Carolina program, and I deeply regret any discomfort or inconvenience it may have caused. I take full responsibility for my actions and assure you that I am committed to conducting myself with the utmost respect and sportsmanship in the future.

After receiving a disqualification for a fighting penalty, Cardoso is facing a suspension for South Carolina’s next game, which would be the opening round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

MORE: Explaining South Carolina star Kamilla Cardoso’s status after LSU fight

Angel Reese vs. Kamilla Cardoso

Reese, the 2024 SEC Player of the Year, and Cardoso, the 2024 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, are two of the conference’s biggest stars and premier post players.

Reese, a 6 ft 3in forward out of Baltimore, and Cardoso, 6 ft 7 in center from Montes Claros, Brazil, went toe-to-toe throughout Sunday’s championship game. ESPN cameras captured the physical battle between the stars, which also featured plenty of trash talk.

Midway through the second quarter, Reese appeared to intentionally pull Cardoso’s hair, prompting a reaction from the South Carolina star. Neither player commented on the apparent hair-pulling incident.

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