Greensboro, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Tiffany Mitchell scored 21 points, including seven straight during a key stretch late that propelled South Carolina to its first NCAA women's Final Four with an 80-74 win over Florida State on Sunday.
Mitchell added six rebounds and five assists for the Gamecocks (34-2), who won the Greensboro Regional as the top seed. Alaina Coates scored 14 points and A'ja Wilson finished with 10 in the victory.
South Carolina, which spent 12 weeks as the No. 1 team in the country during the season, had never been past the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The Gamecocks will next play Notre Dame in the national semifinals next weekend in Tampa.
Leticia Romero scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Florida State (32-5). Brittany Brown chipped in 12 points and Adut Bulgak netted 11 in defeat.
South Carolina trailed for most of the game and didn't take its first lead until midway through the second half. The Gamecocks finally went ahead for good at 69-67 on a layup by Mitchell with just under two minutes to play.
Brown missed a short jumper for Florida State and Mitchell drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner to extend the South Carolina lead to five. Two free throws from Maegan Conwright pulled the Seminoles within three and the Gamecocks whittled the clock down on the ensuing possession.
Mitchell's shot in the lane came up short, but she corralled her own rebound with 30 seconds left and was immediately fouled. She hit both free throws for a 74-69 edge before Bulgak connected from above the top of the key to make it a two-point game with 18.4 seconds remaining.
Asia Dozier then hit two from the stripe for South Carolina and Romero drove to the hoop for a bucket to again make it a two-point game with 10 seconds left. Dozier again connected on two from the line and a steal by Khadijah Sessions sealed it for the Gamecocks.
Florida State opened a 17-9 lead midway through the opening half and extended the margin to 10 at 31-21 with 4 1/2 minutes remaining on a 3-pointer by Emiah Bingley. South Carolina followed with an 11-3 run and pulled within 34-32 on a three-point play by Bianca Cuevas.
The Gamecocks made 11 straight shots at one point during their comeback and got as close as one before heading to the break down 41-38. The Seminoles remained in front early in the second half and led by as many as seven, but South Carolina chipped away and took its first lead of the game at 55-54 with 10:08 remaining on a layup by Mitchell. Romero answered with a layup to put Florida State back on top and it remained no more than a three-point game until the final 90 seconds.