Chasing perfection and another national title, the South Carolina Gamecocks are set for their biggest game of the season yet, taking on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Final Four tonight (9 p.m. ESPN) in a highly-anticipated matchup that has the women’s basketball world buzzing.
The Gamecocks, who collected a bevy of national honors earlier this week, did find themselves shut out of one award in particular: National Player of the Year, which went to Iowa star Caitlin Clark. Clark, fresh off a 41-point, record-setting triple-double performance, is a creative and sophisticated scorer who has drawn comparisons to Steph Curry and will certainly be the focal point of the Gamecock defense.
However, the 2-seed Hawkeyes (30-6) are not just a one-woman show; forward Monika Czinano contributes 17.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, while fellow post player McKenna Warnock also averages double figures (11.1 points), six rebounds, and a sparkling 39% mark from behind the arc. While Clark is understandably the sizzle on Iowa’s steak, she does have a supporting cast to contend with.
The Gamecocks (36-0) will counter Clark with their own superstar in Aliyah Boston, who is coming off a 22-point, 10-rebound showing in the Elite Eight and is a newly minted two-time National Defensive Player of the Year. Of course, Boston comes with a supporting cast as well, with guard Zia Cooke (15.1 points per game) pushing the pace offensively and the Gamecock bench averaging an eye-popping 36 points per game, typically led by Kamilla Cardoso (and supplemented with her 8.4 rebound per game effort on the boards). Guard Brea Beal has also blossomed during the tournament, putting up nine points per game and a team-high five steals; with her defensive chops, she’s likely to spend the most time guarding Clark tonight.
Much like the previous round’s matchup with Maryland, it’s another battle between a high-flying offense and lockdown defense for the Gamecocks...and it’ll be their toughest test yet.