No. 1 South Carolina escapes No. 5 UConn in title game rematch
FINAL: South Carolina 81, UConn 77
From the opening tip, this game had the potential to replicate the high intensity, instant classic ferocity we typically see in March — and absolutely delivered.
South Carolina escaped Hartford unbeaten as the Gamecocks took down UConn in a nail-biting 81-77 victory on Sunday.
The Huskies jumped out to a 25-14 lead after the first ten minutes of play, but from that point on, South Carolina charged back, outscoring UConn 67-52 in the succeeding three periods.
Aliyah Boston was magnificent, scoring 23 points in the second half to finish with a game-high 26 points and 11 boards, her 76th career double-double. South Carolina exploited its size advantage, out-rebounding UConn 42 to 30, and forced its way into the paint to draw fouls and go to the line 36 times. Center Kamilla Cardossa fouled out late in the fourth, but put up 17 points and 11 rebounds off the bench before her exit. South Carolina’s second unit scored 35 points; UConn’s bench scored zero.
Fatigue may have played a factor in the outing for UConn as coach Auriemma opted to play just seven Huskies, the second unit combining for only 14 minutes, and ran a full court press much of the game. Still, the fifth ranked team in the nation remained tenacious, battling for buckets down the stretch. Aliyah Edwards scored an efficient 25 points on 9-12 shooting, while all but one starter finished in double figures. Dorka Juhasz had five points and a team high seven boards.
. @aa_boston OH MY GOODNESS!! Season high 25 points for the senior! pic.twitter.com/jimRpnzJIm— South Carolina Women's Basketball (@GamecockWBB) February 5, 2023
Ultimately, South Carolina’s offensive prowess proved to be too much for UConn as the Huskies move to 21-3 on the season with the loss.
3️⃣Q: South Carolina leads UConn, 53-50
South Carolina took its first lead since 9:44 in the first period and leads UConn by its three heading into the fourth quarter. The Gamecocks are using their size to punish Huskie defenders down low as both Boston, 12 points and 8 rebounds, and Cardoso, 15 points and 7 rebounds, are flirting with double-doubles.
Double-teamed?? No problem @aa_boston 😤 pic.twitter.com/NVmxqDGFYL— South Carolina Women's Basketball (@GamecockWBB) February 5, 2023
But the Huskies aren't going away.
Three UConn players and now in double figures, Edwards (17), Muhl (11) and Griffin (10) and the team has upped its defensive intensity, cutting South Carolina's largest lead, six, in half to close the period.
⏰ HALFTIME: UConn and South Carolina all tied-up at 34
After going down by 11 in the first quarter, South Carolina stormed back in the second period to tie the game at halftime.
The Gamecocks' dominance on the boards and second-chance points have given them a much needed jolt in their offense, though they have yet to reclaim the lead since going up 2-0 to start the game. The AP No. 1 program still has the rebounding advantage with 24 to UConn's 13, and officially has more offensive boards (15) than UConn has total rebounds.
Kamilla Cardoso dropped a game-high 11 points off the bench through the first 20 minutes.
.@Kamillascsilva WITH THE PUTBACK. TIE BALL GAME AT THE HALF‼️— South Carolina Women's Basketball (@GamecockWBB) February 5, 2023
🐔 34 | 34 🐶 pic.twitter.com/qvXAOYRuxV
Both coach Dawn Staley and coach Geno Auriemma have been fired up on the sidelines, fueling their respective team's intensity.
UConn struggled a bit to wrap up the half with just nine points in the second ten minutes, and was careless with the rock bringing its turnover total to seven. Additionally, the Huskies have charted just two assists so far; nation leader Nika Muhl has zero. Aliyah Edwards is the only player on the Huskies in double figures with 10 points, and after a monstrous first quarter, Muhl was held scoreless in the second quarter. UConn is shooting a higher percentage from three than from the field (66.7 to 45.8) and may opt for more perimeter shots to wake up this offense in the third quarter. South Carolina, conversely, has yet to knock one down from long (0-6 from three).
Here's a look at each teams box scores at halftime.
1️⃣Q: UConn 25, South Carolina 14 after ten minutes of play
UConn is hungry.
The Huskies came out the gate pounding the paint and defending well inside. The No. 1 team in the Big East is placing a clear emphasis on making life difficult around the basket for South Carolina, as Aliyah Boston has yet to score a field goal and has just one field goal attempt. Additionally, UConn has already forced five turnovers and held the Gamecocks to 31.3% shooting from the field; UConn is shooting 61.5% from the field and has been perfect from beyond the arc.
Nika Muhl leads all scorers with nine points and is currently is 3/3 from the field and 2/2 from the stripe.
bounce...bounce...— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) February 5, 2023
IT'S IN! pic.twitter.com/TRfS603DHj
South Carolina, however, has dominated the boards, with 10 total rebounds and has almost as many offensive rebounds (6) as UConn has total rebounds (7).
We're not seeing a ton of perimeter play from either program, but we'll look to see how each offensive scheme progresses down the stretch.
South Carolina vs. UConn starters
🐔 South Carolina
- Zia Cooke, G
- Brea Beal, G
- Kierra Fletcher, G
- Victaria Saxton, F
- Aliyah Edwards, F
- Nika Muhl, G
- Lou Lopez Sénéchal, G
- Aubrey Griffin, F
- Dorka Juhász, F
- Aaliyah Edwards, F
📊 How South Carolina and UConn match up statistically
Here's how South Carolina and UConn match up statistically. Both programs are nation leaders in statistical categories as UConn leads DI women's basketball in field goal percentage (52.0) and guard Nika Muhl lead the country in assists (8.8); South Carolina is the leading program in several categories including points allowed (47.0), point differential (35.2), and blocks (9.9).
Here's a full look at their stats:
|Field goal %||47.1||52.0|
Previewing No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 5 UConn
On April 3, 2022, as time ran out in the Target Center in Minneapolis, UConn exited the floor with hung heads as South Carolina celebrated clinching its second championship in program history with a 64-49 victory. Now, the Huskies are out to avenge their title game loss on their home turf in Hartford as South Carolina rolls into town.
The Gamecocks have unanimously remained at No. 1 in this season's AP top 25 rankings and are one of just two teams in DI women's college basketball that are without a loss on their record. Led by Aliyah Boston, who averages 12.9 points and 10 boards, and Zia Cooke, who averages a team-high 15.1 points, Dawn Staley and the Gamecocks have pummeled opponents this year, beating programs by an average of 35.2, the most in DI women's basketball. South Carolina's last two wins against ranked teams, however, have been decided by less than 10 points as the SEC powerhouse beat then-No. 15 UCLA by nine (73-64) and No. 2 Stanford by just five (76-71).
Despite traversing a littany of injuries, including losing Paige Bueckers for the entire season and playing most of the year without Azzi Fudd, UConn sits as a top 5 team and continues to put the world on notice. Forward Aaliyah Edwards has been sensational for the Huskies, averaging 16.8 points and 8.9 rebounds; she is one of four players currently averaging double figures along with Lou Lopez Senechal (16.6), Dorka Juhasz (15.0) and Aubrey Griffin (13.8). At 21-2, UConn is first in the Big East and has the highest field goal percentage in DI women's hoops.
Sunday afternoon's game is sure to be exciting as both teams average over 80 points per game. Revenge for the Huskies — and an unbeaten record for the Gamecocks — all hang in the balance.