GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) – Sindarius Thornwell had 29 points and 11 rebounds to help seventh-seeded South Carolina win its first NCAA Tournament game in 44 years, a 93-73 victory over Marquette to close first-round play in the East Region on Friday night.
If the Gamecocks (23-10) want an NCAA winning streak, they will have to beat No. 2 seed Duke, which blew past Troy 87-65 in an earlier game.
South Carolina last won a game in the NCAAs when it topped Southwestern Louisiana 90-85 in a regional consolation game on March 17, 1973. Exactly 44 years later, the drought – the Gamecocks were one-and-done in their next five appearances – finally came to end in front of a boisterous, South Carolina crowd who traveled the 2 hours north from Columbia to witness the end of an ugly run they couldn’t have imagined would last this long.
Marquette (19-13) gave fans some serious worries in the opening half, going up by 10 points. But the Gamecocks used an 11-0 run midway through the second half to take control. When Thornwell, voted Southeastern Conference player of the year by league coaches, nailed his third 3-pointer with 6:37 to play, South Carolina was up 76-67 and pulling away.
P.J. Dozier had 21 points, 13 in the South Carolina’s second-half rally.
Jujuan Johnson had 16 points to lead Marquette.