South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso apologizes for role in SEC Championship game scuffle

South Carolina senior center Kamilla Cardoso has issued an apology after a scuffle broke out in her team’s 79-72 SEC Championship title game victory over LSU on Sunday, saying she takes “full responsibility” for her role in the incident.

Tempers flared late in the fourth quarter after LSU’s Flau’jae Johnson pushed South Carolina’s Ashlyn Watkins aside after a play with 2:08 remaining and the Gamecocks leading 73-66.

As Johnson was walking away, she was shoved to the floor by Cardoso, leading players from both benches to intervene and engage in pushing and shoving.

“I would like to extend my sincerest apologies for my actions during today’s game,” Cardoso said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“My behavior was not representative of who I am as a person or the South Carolina program, and I deeply regret any discomfort or inconvenience it may have caused.

“I take full responsibility for my actions and assure you that I am committed to conducting myself with the utmost respect and sportsmanship in the future.”

Cardoso, South Carolina’s leading scorer and rebounder, may be suspended for her role in the scuffle. CNN has contacted the NCAA, South Carolina and LSU for further comment.

During the scuffle, a male fan, who according to the broadcast was Johnson’s brother, leaped over the scorer’s table and made his way onto the court before being escorted away in handcuffs. Johnson was called for an intentional foul.

Watkins (#2) and Cardoso (#10) block a shot attempt by LSU's Flau'jae Johnson. - Eakin Howard/Getty Images
Watkins (#2) and Cardoso (#10) block a shot attempt by LSU's Flau'jae Johnson. - Eakin Howard/Getty Images

The Greenville Police Department told CNN that Trayron Milton, a 24-year-old from Georgia, was charged with third-degree assault and battery and disorderly conduct after injuring an SEC employee.

“Milton came from behind the table, pushed down on the victim’s head, and stepped on her shoulders to jump over,” a police statement said.

“Two other spectators jumped over the wall but did not reach the court because officers stopped them. These spectators were escorted out of the Arena by officers.”

CNN has contacted Milton’s management company for comment on the arrest.

After about a 20-minute delay, six players, including Cardoso, were ejected.

“Flau’jae, what I saw, intentionally fouled [MiLaysia] Fulwiley because she stripped her,” LSU head coach Kim Mulkey said after the game.

“Great move because she’s going to get a layup right there. Then some jawing went on with her and another player and the next thing I know Cardoso just waylaid her.

“So I ran because somebody came out of the stands – I think it was Flau’jae’s brother – trying to keep him from doing anything crazy.”

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said that there were “no bad intentions” during the scuffle, adding: “Their emotions just got so far ahead of them that sometimes these things happen, so I want to apologize for us playing a part of that because that’s not who we are, and that’s not what we’re about.”

Playing in the SEC Tournament title game for a fifth straight season, South Carolina were led by guard Fulwiley’s 24 points in a physical battle at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

South Carolina held a 36-32 advantage at halftime after Aneesah Morrow scored 11 of her 19 points in the opening two quarters.

The undefeated Gamecocks came out of the break in full control, leading by as much as 13 points in the third quarter, until a late 9-0 run by the Tigers cut it to within six entering the fourth.

South Carolina built an early double-digit lead in the fourth but allowed another 9-0 LSU run which cut the deficit to 67-66 before pulling away in the closing stages.

The Gamecocks, who are likely to earn a top seed in the NCAA women’s tournament, are seeking to become the ninth team in women’s Division I history to finish the season as undefeated champions.

Last year, they went undefeated in the SEC regular season and SEC tournament before being upset by Iowa in the Final Four.

CNN’s Jill Martin contributed to reporting.

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