women's basketball

A Fight Broke Out at the SEC Women’s Basketball Final

LSU v South Carolina
Photo: Eakin Howard/Getty Images

On Sunday night, with less than three minutes left in the SEC tournament final between South Carolina and Louisiana State University, a scuffle broke out between the two teams, leading to several players being ejected from the game.

The drama began after LSU’s MiLaysia Fulwiley stole the ball from South Carolina’s Flau’jae Johnson, after which Johnson physically fouled Fulwiley. As Johnson walked away, she bumped arms with South Carolina’s Ashlyn Watkins before South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso rushed over to Johnson and pushed her to the floor. Then, players, coaches, security, and one man — later identified as Johnson’s brother — stepped onto the court to try and break up the mêlée.

Six players, including reserve players who stepped onto the court from the bench during the scuffle (but didn’t actually participate in the fight), were ejected from the game. After 20 minutes of debate, game officials decided that the game would continue with five LSU players and six South Carolina players. South Carolina, which had the lead before the fight, won the game 79-72.

ESPN reports that Johnson’s brother, Trayron Milton, was arrested and charged with assault, battery, and disorderly conduct by the Greenville Police Department for jumping over the scorer’s table and onto the court. Police say Milton also pushed an SEC employee and stepped on her shoulders.

After the game, Louisiana coach Kim Mulkey called out Cardoso, who is six-foot-seven, for pushing Johnson, who is five-ten. “Don’t push a kid — you’re six-eight; don’t push somebody that little. That was uncalled for, in my opinion. Let those two girls that were jawing, let them go at it.” Meanwhile, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley told ESPN that she wanted to “apologize to the basketball community” for “us playing a part in that. That’s not who we are. That’s not what we’re about.” The Advocate’s LSU reporter, Reed Darcey, tweeted that Johnson apologized to Staley after the game.

Cardoso — who is disqualified from playing in the next game — followed her coach’s lead, apologizing on Twitter, where she wrote: “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.” Meanwhile, some fans chalked the fight up to healthy competition going too far — something that players on men’s teams are allowed to do without being blamed for ruining an entire tournament or reflecting badly on a whole sport.

A Fight Broke Out at the SEC Women’s Basketball Final