Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso have an intense rivalry, and it culminated in some fireworks in the SEC Tournament final on Sunday afternoon in a battle of top-25 programs.

LSU star Angel Reese was assessed an intentional foul for hitting South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso in the face with her arm during the second quarter of the SEC Tournament final. It gave the Gamecocks two free throws and possession.

Reese and Cardoso have history with one another, going at it in an intense regular-season clash earlier this year. In that contest, Cardoso stared down Reese on several occasions before South Carolina earned a comeback victory.

LSU entered Sunday’s postseason contest eager to ruin the perfect record of its SEC rivals. South Carolina barely escaped in the semi-final against Tennessee to improve to 31-0, so the Tigers wanted to finish the job while taking home a coveted trophy.

Against that backdrop, the SEC Tournament final was physical from the get-go. Moments before Reese contacted Cardoso in the face, Cardoso appeared to give Reese a push under the basket at the other end.

Angel Reese appeared to get away with a hair pull early in the first half before receiving an intentional foul in the second quarter.

They also exchanged trash talk throughout the first half. On one occasion, Reese appeared to pull Cardoso’s hair in an incident that went unseen by referees.

Reese and Cardoso are two of the best players in the SEC, with the LSU forward winning SEC Player of the Year. Both are expected to be taken in the first round of the 2024 WNBA Draft if they enter.

Throughout the season, Reese has played with a trademark fire that’s sometimes toed the line of trouble. For example, she received a technical a couple of weeks ago for a tussle with Texas A&M.

Teammate Flau’jae Johnson came to her defense in that instance, mocking the Aggies for trailing by double digits as they angrily swarmed Reese following a hard foul.

Then, against Tennessee, Reese appeared to tell a rival, “Who are you talking to? You better not be talking to me,” before seemingly adding, “Watch your mouth.”

South Carolina isn’t afraid to play with an edge either – even though head coach Dawn Staley has repeatedly asked her players to tone it down.

Angel Reese received an intentional foul against South Carolina.

“They’re so young, they’re so free,” Staley said this year. “They’re free, and sometimes free is wrong. … Sometimes it looks great, and other times it’s just flat-out wrong. And the wrong part is what keeps us up.”

LSU’s emotions on Sunday aren’t solely related to its matchup with South Carolina. The Tigers have been forced to play short-handed because of injuries, with Last-Tear Poa’s serious head injury in the semi-final leaving players in tears and Mikaylah Williams competing at less than 100 percent because of a foot problem.

Reese twisted her ankle earlier in the SEC Tournament and arrived at the arena for the final in a walking boot. She still started for head coach Kim Mulkey.