Iowa, Caitlin Clark knock off defending champions South Carolina
FINAL: Iowa 77, South Carolina 73
There will be a new champion after No. 2 Iowa knocked off defending champs No. 1 South Carolina.
The Hawkeyes crushed South Carolina’s undefeated season, besting the Gamecocks 77-73.
Caitlin Clark scored the most points in semifinal history with 41. From the logo, highly contested, at the rim — didn’t matter. Clark could not be stopped.
Clark was especially sensational in the fourth quarter. The junior standout scored the last 13 points for Iowa; she scored or assisted on every Iowa point in the final 10 minutes.
The Hawkeyes helped seal the deal by beating South Carolina at its own game. With 18 seconds left up by two, Clark missed a 3-pointer but McKenna Warnock cleaned up the miss with an offensive rebound. South Carolina led the nation in rebounding margin but failed to secure the most important one of the season.
THE HAWKEYES ARE HEADED TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME! #WFinalFour x @IowaWBB pic.twitter.com/GSt87kqZn1— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessWBB) April 1, 2023
Aliyah Boston was held to just eight points after struggling with foul trouble. Zia Cooke notched a team-high 24 points, but it couldn’t keep on pace with Iowa’s top-ranked offense.
Despite getting out-rebounded 49-25 (26-5 offensive) and getting outworked in the paint 46-38, Iowa prevailed. The Hawkeyes outshot the Gamecocks 49% to 39% and made smart plays down the stretch.
The last time Iowa reached the Final Four was in 1993. The Hawkeyes missed their chance 30 years ago to advance to the title game — Clark and company didn’t let the opportunity slip through their fingers.
For the first time since 2011, no No. 1 seed will appear in the national title game. No. 3 LSU will battle Iowa for the championship Sunday, April 2.
3Q: Iowa 59, South Carolina 55
Back and forth they go. Iowa leads 59-55 heading into the final 10 minutes.
Aliyah Boston scored her first points after going scoreless in the first half. Boston also picked up her third foul but remained on the floor. Another crucial piece to South Carolina Laeticia Amihere picked up her third foul.
One of the top defenses in the country is struggling to keep up with Iowa’s quick pace. The Hawkeyes are outscoring South Carolina by nine from beyond the arc.
For just the second time this season, the Gamecocks trail after three quarters.
Final 10 coming up ‼️— Iowa Women's Basketball (@IowaWBB) April 1, 2023
END 3 | Iowa 59, SC 55 #Hawkeyes x #WFinalFour pic.twitter.com/CNLm2RrwVN
⏱ HALFTIME: Iowa 38, South Carolina 37
20 minutes gone, and this Final Four matchup has not disappointed.
Iowa continues to lead South Carolina 38-37.
It’s been a point guard battle between Caitlin Clark (19) and Zia Cooke (18). Clark shot 7 for 12 and Cooke 8 for 13.
Clark picked up two fouls, as did Aliyah Boston. Clark stayed on the floor and Boston sat for the second quarter.
Here's a look at the second-half statistics:
Caitlin Clark reaches 1,000 season points
The Hawkeyes star becomes the sixth DI women’s basketball player to reach 1,000 points in a single season.
For the first time in DI basketball history, two players reached the 1,000-point total in a season. Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist was the first this season.
1Q: Iowa 22, South Carolina 13
Undefeated South Carolina has met its match. Iowa jumped out to a hot start offensively shooting 56% from the field more than 20% more than South Carolina’s season points allowed average.
Caitlin Clark led the Hawkeyes with 11 first-quarter points. Meanwhile, South Carolina’s star Aliyah Boston racked up her second foul. She’ll likely sit for while.
This is the most the Gamecocks have trailed in the entire tournament, their back-to-back championship run is in jeopardy.
👀👀👀@CaitlinClark22 x #Hawkeyes— Iowa Women's Basketball (@IowaWBB) April 1, 2023
South Carolina vs. Iowa is underway
One more Final Four game between No. 1 South Carolina and No. 2 Iowa will decide who faces No. 3 LSU in the national championship.
Here are the starting lineups:
📖 What to read ahead South Carolina vs. Iowa Final Four battle
Today is the day. In less than nine hours the Final Four nightcap will tip off between No. 1 South Carolina and No. 2 Iowa on ESPN.
This matchup has everything — the big names, stunning offense, intense defense. There’s a lot to read up on, so we narrowed it down from local to national to coverage from our site.
Here are some readings to get you started:
- The keys to South Carolina’s dominant defense — NCAA.com
- How dominant has Caitlin Clark been for Iowa basketball? These charts tell the story — Des Moines Register
- Two Talented Stars. Two Different Styles. One Seismic Matchup. — Sports Illustrated
- South Carolina vs. Iowa, Caitlin Clark a long time coming for women’s basketball — The State
- What Dawn Staley, South Carolina said about No. 1 scoring defense vs Caitlin Clark, Iowa — Greenville News
- Iowa feels mental preparation is in right spot ahead of facing SC — Des Moines Register
Previewing South Carolina vs. Iowa
The best defense versus the best offense. That sums up the Final Four matchup between No. 1 South Carolina and No. 2 Iowa in one sentence.
The Gamecocks ride into Dallas looking for their second-straight NCAA national title and third overall. The Hawkeyes are searching for their first-ever national championship. Iowa returns to the Final Four after a 30-year drought; this marks South Carolina’s third consecutive Final Four.
Defense wins championships. That was the case for Dawn Staley’s squad last season, and could like be again this year. Before Maryland posted the second-largest point total (75) on South Carolina in the Elite Eight, the Gamecocks' defense ranked top of the nation. But it still tops all teams in the tournament. It’s led by back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year Aliyah Boston.
But South Carolina's defense will have to keep up with the electric Caitlin Clark-led offense. The junior phenom was just tapped as the National Player of the Year. Clark is coming off a historic 40-point triple-double. Currently, she leads the nation in assists and 3-pointers made.
Here’s how the two teams stack up statistically:
|29.5 (1ST)||SCORING MARGIN||16.7|
South Carolina's depth defensively and offensively wears down the opposition. The Gamecocks lead the nation in the most bench points (36). The standout senior class nicknamed "the Freshies" have a record of 128-8.
Iowa's squad also has a lot of playing time together. The Hawkeye's starters have played 90 total games together that's the most of any DI women's team in the last 20 years.
Where the Gamecocks excel, there's an adverse stat that puts Iowa on the same level. Fire, meet water. South Carolina, meet Iowa.
📺 How to watch South Carolina vs. Iowa
The marquee Final Four matchup between No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 2 Iowa is one you do not want to miss. Here's how to keep up with all the action.
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Date: Friday, March 31
Live stats: NCAA.com
South Carolina Gamecocks' road to the Final Four
The top-seeded Gamecocks took on No. 16 Norfolk State in the NCAA tournament first round and handily won by 32 points. Laeticia Amihere and Zia Cooke led South Carolina with 11 points each.
In the next round, South Carolina faced No. 8 South Florida. The Bulls took an early five-point lead and kept it close in the first half, but the Gamecocks pulled away in the second creating a 31-point-sized hole and outscored South Florida 24-9 in the fourth quarter.
South Carolina met No. 4 UCLA in the Sweet 16. The Gamecocks posted another wire-to-wire win. It was a dogged defense battle where neither team shot particularly well. Brea Beal, Kamilla Cardaso and Bree Hall led South Carolina with 11 points each.
No. 2 Maryland handed South Carolina its toughest battle of the tournament. The Terps put up the second-highest point total against the Gamecocks this season. Ultimately, South Carolina pulled away in the second half to beat Maryland by double-digits.
Iowa Hawkeyes' road to the Final Four
Second-seeded Iowa faced No. 15 Southeastern Louisiana in the opening round. The Hawkeyes routed the first-time tournament team outshooting the Lions 60% to 25.4% from the field.
The Hawkeyes got a scare in the second round versus No. 10 Georgia. The Bulldogs kept up with Iowa's top-scoring offense until the final two minutes of the game when the Hawkeyes went on a 6-0 run to the final buzzer.
Next, Iowa took on No. 6 Colorado. Caitlin Clark's 18-point second-half effort lifted the Hawkeyes over the Buffaloes particularly in the third quarter when Iowa outscored Colorado 25-13.
Before moving on to Dallas, the Hawkeyes rolled No. 5 Louisville. Iowa held control over last year's Final Four team to move on to their own. Clark posted a historic triple-double with 41 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds; no DI basketball player ever recorded such a feat.
📝 South Carolina vs. Iowa series history
The Gamecocks and Hawkeyes have met only one time in history on Dec. 28, 1989, South Carolina leads 1-0.
Almost 34 years, ago the two faced on in the "Super Shootout Basketball Tournament" in Hilton Head, S.C. No. 20 ranked South Carolina bested No. 4 Iowa 82-76.