GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA - MARCH 10: Aalyah Del Rosario #23 of the LSU Lady Tigers celebrates with Angel Reese #10 of the LSU Lady Tigers after a basket and foul against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the third quarter during the championship game of the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena on March 10, 2024 in Greenville, South Carolina.
Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

Angel Reese Reveals Why She Didn't Defend Teammates During Brawl

Sunday's SEC Championship Game between the South Carolina Gamecocks and LSU Tigers was the testiest women's college basketball contest we've seen in some time.

So much so that a bench-clearing brawl even broke out between Dawn Staley and Kim Mulkey's teams with a bit over two minutes left in the game.

The brawl occurred after LSU's Flau'jae Johnson intentionally fouled South Carolina's star freshman guard, MiLaysia Fulwiley, to prevent a breakaway layup. While she was walking away, Johnson then shoved South Carolina's Ashlyn Watkins — which prompted South Carolina standout center Kamilla Cardoso to shove Johnson to the ground.

After a 20-minute delay to sort out the incident, Cardoso — along with every player from both teams' benches — got ejected from the game. Cardoso will likely be suspended for the Gamecocks' first NCAA Tournament game as well. 

LSU coach Kim Mulkey called out both Cardoso and the referees after the game, saying, "I wish [Cardoso] would have pushed Angel Reese. Don't push a kid — you're 6-8 — 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."

It's certainly true that Reese and Cardoso were going back and forth all game. In fact, there was one point when Reese blatantly yanked Cardoso's hair after LSU scored a basket. 

Yet, even if Cardoso had wanted to go at Reese during the brawl, the LSU star forward was nowhere to be found while it was underway. 

Reese received some criticism from media after the game for walking away from the brawl instead of sticking up for teammates — which prompted Reese to explain her lack of action on X postgame. 

"As a person at my STATUS, sometimes you have to walk away from certain situations. Mind you the play before that I had rolled my ankle AGAIN and was already walking to the bench. I ALWAYS ride for mine. I'm super proud of this team & super excited for march. #geauxtigers ?'??'?"

Reese has a point. She has proved multiple times in the past that she's a great teammate, and her involvement in the brawl would have only made matters worse. 

Besides, LSU can't afford to lose Reese for the NCAA Tournament. They'll have a tough enough task defending their 2023 national championship with her on the court. 

Reese knows this. Therefore, not taking part in the brawl is another example of her being a great teammate.

MORE: Angel Reese Receives Rare Honor From SEC