It was a battle between two women’s basketball dynasties – one old, one new – and the Gamecocks prevailed.
For the second time this season — although you could argue this one had much more meaning — South Carolina (35-2) defeated Connecticut (30-6), this time by the score of 64-49.
Through the first quarter, it appeared that USC’s size would be too much for the Huskies. The Gamecocks opened the game on a 13-2 run with nine of those points being second chance points.
UConn also managed to put up only eight points in the first quarter, which was its lowest scoring first quarter of the year. To put that more into perspective, Connecticut had one more point than South Carolina had offensive rebounds through the same span.
The Huskies woke up a bit in the second quarter both offensively and defensively.
UConn star Paige Bueckers scored her first bucket of the game and nine of her 14 points in the quarter after being mainly invisible in the stat sheet through one.
The second quarter also featured a 13-2 run by the Huskies, which cut a deficit that grew to as large as 18 points down to seven. That streak coincided with a scoreless spell by the Gamecocks that lasted nearly five minutes.
After missing 12 of its last 13 shots to close the half, South Carolina went into the break leading 35-27.
The Gamecocks came out of the locker room fighting, jumping out to a quick 8-0 run, but that high quickly faded as the Huskies proceeded to score 10 unanswered points capped off by a Evina Westbrook three-point shot, cutting the lead to six – the smallest deficit of the second half.
Following a very well-placed timeout by head coach Dawn Staley, South Carolina took the game over and never gave it back.
Destanni Henderson was the closer, scoring 10 of her team-high and career-high 26 points in the final act.
In all, this South Carolina victory was brought to you by stellar rebounding (the Gamecocks DOUBLED the Huskies’ rebounding total, out-rebounding them 49-24) that led to second chance points, their always dependable defense that kept them in the game when the offense went cold and Henderson’s career night.
Now, it’s on to the offseason where South Carolina looks to repeat with a target now on its metaphorical back.