CHARLESTON, S.C. — USF gave it a battle, but it couldn't get past South Carolina on Friday night in the semifinals of the Charleston Classic.
The Gamecocks held on to beat the Bulls 69-66 and reach the championship round.
South Carolina (4-0) plays Miami (4-0) for the tournament championship at 6 p.m. Sunday.
USF plays UNC-Wilmington at 3:30 Sunday.
"I thought the first four minutes of the second half we let our guard down and let them get momentum," USF coach Stan Heath said. "This game is a game of momentum and runs, and the start of the second half was big for them."
Gus Gilchrist led USF (3-1) with 19 points with Jarrid Famous adding 16.
Devan Downey led South Carolina with 17.
"We had a hard time with Devan Downey," Heath said. "He really controlled that team. He's tough, and really gets inside your defense."
USF had a six-point lead at halftime, but it slipped away early in the second half. The Gamecocks took a two-point lead at the 14:36 mark, and while they never really pulled away, they also never relinquished the lead.
The Gamecocks' free-throw shooting down the stretch was key. They made 11-of-14 free throws in the final 1:49.
In the first half, USF jumped out to an early lead, 19-9, but South Carolina battled back, and the Bulls led 35-29 at halftime.
Both teams had players in foul trouble.
Gilchrist went to the bench after picking up his second foul, playing 14 minutes in the first half.
Mike Holmes played only five minutes in the first half after picking up two quick fouls.
Famous picked up the scoring slack, with 13 points in the half.
The Bulls shot 52 percent from the field in the first half to South Carolina's 34.4 percent.
Neither team was effective from 3-point range, with South Carolina missing all eight attempts and the Bulls finishing the half 1-for-5.
Gilchrist scored 11 of his game-high 19 points in the second half for the Bulls.
Jones and Gilchrist combined to score 22 of the Bulls' 31 points in the second half.
Earlier, Miami (4-0) reached the championship by beating UNC-Wilmington 67-60. The Hurricanes opened play in the tournament with a 74-54 victory over Tulane on Thursday.
USF reached the second round by beating Davidson 65-58 in Thursday's first round.