USC was able to take down Maryland in enemy territory earlier this season in not-so-dramatic fashion by the score of 81-56, and, luckily for Gamecock fans, round two went just about how round one did.
Top-ranked South Carolina (36-0) defeated the two-seeded Maryland Terrapins (28-7) Monday night in Greenville by the score of 86-75 to advance to the Final Four in the women’s NCAA Tournament for the third time in three years.
It was the game between the best defense in the country and one of the best offenses, and the defensive squad prevailed, although it may have not been too fair of a fight.
In the most important game of the year for the Terps, no starter on the team played more than 30 minutes due to foul trouble with four of the five starters closing with four or more fouls during the contest. From a fan’s perspective, it must hurt to know your best players weren’t on the floor during the most important parts of the game, too.
While that may be the case, that also does not mean the best team didn’t win (and how Maryland kept it this close while dealing with all this may have been a miracle).
The Cocks won the battle of the boards 48 to 26, were more aggressive in getting to the line (as I brought up previously) hitting six more free throws than the Terps and shot an absurd clip from deep draining 6-of-15.
All that, and the stars came to play.
Aliyah Boston – just one night after Iowa’s Caitlin Clark had an all-time game in the history of women’s basketball – had to remind everyone who the best player in the country is, scoring 22 on 10-of-14 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds and five assists.
Zia Cooke also had a solid day on the offensive end with 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting to go with eight boards (for a guard??).
Can’t leave out Brea Beal either, who continued to cook from three-point land, draining 2-of-3 from deep to go along with 16 points and six dimes.
Additionally, South Carolina was able to limit Maryland’s offensive production – for the large part – to only two sources: Abby Meyers and Diamond Miller, who finished with 24 points and 14 points respectively.
It’s also important to note that Meyers fouled out in the beginning stages of the fourth, so her early departure hurt Maryland as well.
So, despite jumping out to a 21-15 lead to conclude the first quarter and its guard-dominated lineup working out against South Carolina to begin, Maryland largely gave this one away thanks to a big second quarter for the Cocks – outscoring the Terps 23-9 – and constant foul monitoring in the second half.
Next up for South Carolina is a trip to the Final Four in Dallas this Friday at 9 p.m. for a date with Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes – the game every basketball fan wanted – in what very well could be the highest rated women’s college basketball game of all time.