Fight late in South Carolina-LSU SEC championship game leads to at least 10 ejections

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More than 10 players were ejected from the SEC tournament final between South Carolina and LSU after a scuffle broke out at mid-court late in the fourth quarter.

The incident, which occurred with 2:08 to play with South Carolina leading 73-66, occurred after LSU guard Flau’jae Johnson stopped the progress of South Carolina’s MiLaysia Fulwiley as she dribbled up the court in transition. Johnson made contact with South Carolina’s Ashlyn Watkins. Gamecocks center Kamilla Cardoso then knocked Johnson to the ground.

Players from both teams ran to midcourt before coaches separated their respective teams. A fan, whom ESPN’s broadcast identified as Johnson’s brother, left the stands and leapt over the scorer’s table and was briefly on the court before police escorted him off the floor.

After a delay which lasted more than 10 minutes, officials ruled Johnson for committing an intentional foul and ejected Cardoso. They also ejected every player from each team’s bench for leaving their respective bench areas, except for South Carolina’s Sania Feagin, who did not leave the Gamecocks’ bench area, and Te-Hina Paopao, who was already at the scorer’s table to sub into the game. Feagin replaced Cardoso on the floor after the ejection.

“I just want to apologize to the basketball community,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said during an on-court interview with ESPN. “You know when you’re playing a championship game like this in our league things get heated. No bad intentions. They’re emotions got so far ahead of them that sometimes these things happen. So I want to apologize for us playing a part in that, cause that’s not who we are and that’s not what we’re about. But I’m happy for the players that were able to finish the game at get us another championship.”

Both teams will not play again until the NCAA Tournament, so any potential suspensions could apply to their first-round games.

South Carolina went on to win, 79-72, to improve to 32-0.

This story will be updated.

(Photo: Eakin Howard / Getty Images)

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