Raven Johnson lobbed the ball inside to Kamilla Cardoso, but the shot wasn’t there for the South Carolina women’s basketball center.

So Cardoso kicked it back out immediately to Johnson, who stood at the arc. The sophomore point guard didn’t hesitate, taking the shot in rhythm.

Johnson drained the 3-pointer, giving the No. 1 Gamecocks a five-point lead with 53.8 seconds left in their Sweet 16 matchup with No. 4 seed Indiana on Friday at MVP Arena in Albany, New York.

Johnson’s shot was the dagger, and South Carolina won 79-75 to advance to the Elite Eight. The Gamecocks (35-0) will face No. 3 seed Oregon State on Sunday for a fourth straight trip to the Final Four.

How South Carolina avoided historic March Madness collapse thanks to Raven  Johnson's big 3-pointer


South Carolina coach Dawn Staley had called a timeout right before the shot. South Carolina’s lead was down to two from 22, and Indiana was closing in on the biggest comeback in NCAA Tournament history.

Staley wanted to get the ball to Cardoso, who had a game-high 22 points on 10-for-12 shooting, but Indiana collapsed on her.

“I wanted her to shoot it,” Staley said of Johnson. “I was mouthing ‘shoot it’ because she was so wide open, and she shot it in rhythm. When it’s like that, good bad or indifferent, it’s a really good shot to take, and I’m happy that Raven stepped up.”

Johnson was the only other Gamecock in double figures. She had 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting, five rebounds and six assists. She was 3-for-3 from 3-point range.

Johnson is almost a year removed from being waved off in the Final Four by Caitlin Clark. Johnson was at the arc wide open in South Carolina’s matchup with Iowa in the 2023 Final Four, and Clark didn’t bother to guard her.



How South Carolina avoided historic March Madness collapse thanks to Raven  Johnson's big 3-pointer

That motivated Johnson going into her sophomore season. She went from shooting 24.1% from 3-point range last season to 35.3% this season.

“I was open, and all I could think was, let it go. I don’t want to lose,” Johnson said. “Just going from last year – nobody can sag off me this year, and I take that very personal. And I get in the gym every day and put up reps and I think that’s where it comes from, the confidence.”

Before the shot, Staley saw the determination in Johnson’s eyes down the stretch as Indiana closed in on what was once a 22-point lead. The possession before Johnson’s 3-pointer, Indiana’s Mackenzie Holmes had cut South Carolina’s lead to two points.

“I knew she wasn’t going to let us lose. I knew she was going to do something,” Staley said. “She had two big baskets, the three and then the midrange shot in the lane, and then she made one of two free throws. A lot of that was her making big plays, instinctive plays that really good point guards do when they need to do it.”