Let’s Be Real: The LSU-South Carolina Scuffle Is Great For Women’s Basketball And Only Gained Them More Fans and Interest

Women’s basketball couldn’t ask for any better drama than what LSU and South Carolina produced in the SEC Championship game.

Not to promote violence, but women’s basketball is at its apex as far as the attention that it’s getting from male eyes, and if it takes some drama, an all-out social media campaign, NIL deals, rapper affiliations and an occasional fisticuff to keep the public interested as we brace for an historic NCAA Tournament, then so be it.

Women’s basketball couldn’t ask for any better drama than what LSU and South Carolina produced in the SEC Championship game. (Getty Images)

“We’re Going To Foul Your Ass”: Kamilla Cardoso Sends Flau’Jae Johnson Flying

Already highly anticipated, with the emotional juices flowing, the two best teams in the SEC: undefeated and No. 1-ranked South Carolina vs. No. 8 LSU, the defending national champions, set the table for what would be a gritty and physical game.

Add in the two most notable coaches in the women’s game in Dawn Staley and Kate Mulkey, neither of whom are wired to back down, and you have a sports enthusiasts delight over the weekend.

Mulkey had much to say about the incident, which according to ESPN, resulted in ejections of the entire LSU and South Carolina benches. Which again, from my perspective, is incredible for the sport of women’s basketball, even if it’s not something we want to be a normal occurrence.

With 2:08 remaining in Sunday’s championship game of the SEC Women’s Tournament, South Carolina freshman MiLaysia Fulwiley stripped the ball from LSU sophomore Flau’jae Johnson, who grabbed her as she started up the court for an intentional foul.

After the foul was called, there was commotion because intensity and stakes were high and Twitter was buzzing as well as the player’s mouths the entire game.

South Carolina’s Ashlyn Watkins approached Johnson. The two exchanged words before Johnson gave Watkins an elbow shove. That’s when South Carolina star senior center Kamilla Cardoso, who is 6-7, shoved the 5-foot-10 Johnson across the floor.

Then all heck broke loose, and Johnson’s brother inexplicably hopped past the scorer’s table and rushed the court, apparently to confront Cardoso for getting physical with his sister.

Flau’Jae Johnson’s Brother Rushes The Court

Johnson’s brother, Trayvon Milton, was arrested and booked into a Greenville County jail.   Milton was charged with a count of disorderly conduct and assault and battery in the third degree. 

Police in Greenville say Milton shoved an SEC employee in the head and stepped on her shoulders to get on the court. After landing on the floor, Milton bumped into Cardoso before a police officer escorted him away. 

Greenville police said that two other fans hopped over the first barrier, but officers stopped each of them before they could jump onto the floor.

“The championship of the SEC Tournament was a great game and a tremendous showcase for women’s basketball as a sport,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement Monday, “but I am highly disappointed in the incident that took place late in the game and regret that it took focus off what was otherwise a successful championship event.”

Let’s Be Real: The Scuffle Was Lit: The Postgame Was Even Better

Despite the disappointment expressed by both coaches and the commissioner about the incident, let’s put the politically correct, spirit-of-the-game drivel aside. Johnson’s brother getting arrested added another level of crazy to the situation. What was he going to do, hit Cardoso?

It was an idiotic move on his part to go anywhere near the floor and he deserved what he got. His sister can protect herself and she has teammates and referees to back her up if she’s in danger.

Cardoso was suspended for the first round of the NCAA Tourney, but the governing body needed to let it slide because the excitement and social media drama that the incident stirred up can’t be purchased. The only fallout is a ball-out. A tabloid’s dream. Isn’t that what drives news these days anyway?

Women’s Hoops Get A Huge W With South Carolina-LSU Tussle

LSU coach Kim Mulkey understood the assignment. She wasn’t trying to do anything but add to the drama, saying in her press conference that she wished Cardoso “would have pushed” 6-foot-4 LSU star Angel Reese, implying that the outcome would have been much different.

Those comments add fuel to the fire and ensured that LSU-South Carolina would be the talk of sports for the next couple of days. ESPN’s Shannon Sharpe is saying that the game was marred because of the scuffle, and it tainted all of the attention woman’s basketball is getting.

C’mon, Uncle Shay Shay. We both know that women’s basketball is not thriving because of how fundamentally sound they play the game or how great Angel Reese’s footwork is.

Women’s College Basketball Finally Has The Spotlight

Women’s college basketball couldn’t have written a better script to set themselves up for March Madness. Cailtin Clark is shattering scoring records, being promoted by Nike and getting backlash and love across the board. All press is good press.

The added intensity and animosity between these teams favored to win the NCAA tournament is a blessing. The stars of these teams, regardless of the final outcome, will head off to the WNBA as already-established household names because of all the drama and attention the women’s game has received since Reese and Clark squared off in the Final Four last season and started this media explosion.

Now, women’s hoops has taken on a life of its own, and don’t fool yourself by thinking the women don’t need messy moments like this to continue to grow the game. Handshakes, pats on the back and unity among women is not going to cut it. The fans want beef, hate, celebrity players who transcend the court, storylines and AND great play. That’s always been a winning recipe in sports.

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