March 18

41 YEARS AGO TODAY: March 18, 1971

March 18, 2012 

Tom Owens (far right)

PHOTO COURTESY OF USC ARCHIVES

The ACC champion South Carolina Gamecocks made their first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

With only sixteen teams included, one would expect a tough matchup, and indeed it was. The opponent in this East Regional matchup in Raleigh was the unbeaten and third-ranked Pennsylvania Quakers.

The Gamecocks played well in the first half. They held a 37-36 lead at halftime, but the hot-shooting Quakers began to burn the USC zone defense from the outside in the second half. Carolina, trailing late, had to resort to very aggressive defense. The Quakers made them pay by connecting on 26 straight free throws. Penn pulled away to a 79-64 victory, ending the hopes of this great Gamecock squad.

Tom Owens led the way for USC with a double-double in the game with 16 points and 10 rebounds. All-American John Roche finished with 14 points.

Despite this disappointing loss, it was a great year for Carolina. They were ACC Champions for the first time, and posted a great 23-4 record.

Compiled by Don Turner

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