Final: No. 1 South Carolina gets its Final Four revenge over No. 2 Stanford, 65-61
Sweet, sweet revenge!
The Final Four battle back in March carried over its same intensity into tonight's rematch. But tonight, South Carolina walks away victorious this time around, 65-61, protecting its No. 1 throne and undefeated record. The Gamecocks are now 6-0 over ranked opponents in the 2021-22 season.
It was a back-and-forth battle down the stretch as South Carolina and Stanford traded the lead. Destanni Henderson found Aliyah Boston down low to go to work over Fran Belibi to take the lead, 61-60. From there, Stanford went scoreless for the rest of the way up until a free-throw by Hannah Jump in the final seconds. Littleton called ball-game with two crucial free throws to seal the deal.
Henderson was the hero for South Carolina in the second half. South Carolina's floor general carried the momentum on both ends of the floor she created in the third into the final frame. Henderson finished with 17 points and seven assists and steals.
Stanford was plagued with 20 turnovers, while South Carolina scored 26 points off of its mistakes, including 10 massive blocks.
End of 3Q: No. 1 South Carolina 50, No. 2 Stanford 49
That was the difference-maker in the third quarter. South Carolina's floor general got seven quick steals and turned them into offense to create a shift in energy for the Gamecocks to storm back in the third. South Carolina forced Stanford into 15 turnovers and scored 18 points off of its mistakes. Henderson currently has 10 points and Boston leads with 13.
Brea Beal knocked down a crucial three to steal the lead from Stanford, 50-49, heading into the final frame.
South Carolina comes out blazing out of the locker room🔥
We have a ball game! How about a 10-0 run out of the half by South Carolina to climb back in the third quarter, 47-40.
Q3: Five points in the blink of an eye! @dstnylttltn24 splashes from 3, then a turnover becomes an easy hoop for @dh3so3hd. We got a ballgame here in the CLA!— GamecockWBB (@GamecockWBB) December 22, 2021
STATS: https://t.co/wL4pgIYZD8 pic.twitter.com/8I6wqFZUJZ
Halftime: No. 2 Stanford 42, No. 1 South Carolina 28
What a second half, all-around performance from Stanford to take the lead, 42-28, heading into the locker room. This gives the No. 1 team in the country its largest deficit in the last three seasons.
On offense, Lexie Hull set the tone with 14 points for Stanford, but sat out in the second due to early foul trouble. Stanford continued the momentum in Hull's absence with a team effort. The Cardinal have 12 assists off of finding the open man on backdoor cuts by being patient and finding the extra pass.
Stanford has also had a night beyond the arc, knocking down six three's in the first half. However, South Carolina has struggled, shooting 11% from beyond the arc.
On defense, hats off to Stanford for creating pressure and playing smart defense, including swatting away nine clean blocks. Stanford has done a phenomenal job smothering South Carolina's paint, which is where the Gamecocks' thrive. Boston scored South Carolina's first two buckets, but was held quiet up until the 4.27 mark in the second quarter. Boston is currently leading the Gamecocks with 10 points.
End of 1Q: No. 2 Stanford 21, No. 1 South Carolina 13
Stanford's Lexi Hull owned the first quarter with 14 of Stanford's 21 points to end the first quarter. There's no hiding the fact that Hull has the hot hand and her teammates have done a great job finding her. But Hull has also done a great job creating for herself, scoring inside and out, shooting 60 percent from the floor and 2-for-3 beyond the arc.
Defense has also been impressive in the paint from Stanford, containing South Carolina's front court with six blocks. It is worthy to note that Stanford did not go to the free-throw line.
Stanford leads 12-11 at the first media time out
Stanford's offense looks polished and efficient, so far. The Cardinals are shooting 5-for-8 from the floor and a flawless 2-for2 from beyond the arc. That's thanks to deep three's from Hannah Jump and Lexie Hull.
South Carolina is shooting 4-for-14 from the floor, but only trails by one point at the first media timeout.
Henderson is back!
After missing the last three games, South Carolina's floor general Destanni Henderson is back in the starting lineup. Henderson is not expected to have any minute restrictions tonight against Stanford.
Unfortunately, Lele Grissett will not be in the front court for South Carolina due to health and safety protocols.
Going to miss this energy on the bench tonight - @lele4grissett is not here due to health and safety protocols.— GamecockWBB (@GamecockWBB) December 21, 2021
So if you’re in the building, bring all your LeLe energy tonight FAMS!! pic.twitter.com/4VLWmKlVzA
It's almost time for tip-off!
Grab your popcorn!
It's time for a top-2 matchup. Tip-off is @ 7 pm ET on ESPN2. Will No. 1 South Carolina get its Final Four revenge over Stanford or will the defending champs look to regain its throne? Tune in to find out.
How to watch No. 1 South Carolina vs No. 2 Stanford
WHEN: You can watch No. 2 Stanford and Haley Jones (above) at No. 1 South Carolina at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Dec. 21.
HOW TO WATCH ON TV: The game will be nationally televised on ESPN2. You can also stream on WatchESPN.
LOCATION: Colonial Life Arena | Columbia, South Carolina
Week 6's Power 10 rankings
NCAA.com's Autumn Johnson breaks down her Power 10 rankings for Week 6 of women's college basketball, which includes South Carolina and Stanford in the top-2.
Latest AP Top 25 rankings
Below is the most recent AP Top 25 women's basketball poll, updated on Monday, Dec. 20. South Carolina is No. 1, as it has been all season, while Stanford is up one spot to No. 2.
|1||South Carolina (29)||11-0||725||1|
Preview: No. 1 South Carolina vs No. 2 Stanford
The moment has finally come! It's time for a Final Four rematch: No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 2 Stanford. This is a matchup we all circled on our calendars when teams released their schedules.
We all remember the heartbreaking loss South Carolina suffered against Stanford back in March. Only one point stood between South Carolina advancing to the championship round. Instead, a missed layup from Brea Beal and putback from Aliyah Boston allowed the Cardinal to go on and become the 2021 NCAA women's basketball tournament champs. That game is still fresh on the Gamecocks' mind.
South Carolina is bringing back all players from its Final Four squad and Stanford returns all but Kianna Williams from its championship team. Since then, head coach Tara VanDerveer and Dawn Staley have revamped their teams with more depth and scoring weapons.
South Carolina will suit up on Tuesday, Dec. 21 to avenge the loss that sent them home early with home court advantage in Columbia, South Carolina. So far, the Gamecocks are undefeated, including 5-0 against unranked opponents — NC State, Oregon, UConn, Maryland and Duke. Can they add Stanford to this list?
On the other side, Stanford is 8-2 with both of its loses coming from ranked opponents — Texas and South Florida. However, the Cardinal are on a hot, four-game winning streak, recently taking down then-No. 7 Tennessee in its previous matchup on Dec. 18. Stanford has also picked up massive wins over ranked Big Ten foes, Maryland and Indiana, while they competed in the Bahamas during Thanksgiving.
Stat breakdown and team comparison
Both teams are well-equipped with versatility and depth, bringing back its entire Final Four squads while adding more key pieces to its arsenal. Here's how South Carolina and Stanford compare, by the numbers:
|(11-0 SEC)||Record (conference games)||(8-2 Pac-12)|
|1||Current AP poll ranking||2|
|Final Four||2021 NCAA tournament finish||Champions|
|72.6||Points Per Game||73.2|
|.461||Field Goal %||.447|
|46.7||Rebounds Per Game||43.5|
|14.5||Assists Per Game||15.0|
|16.2||Turnovers Per Game||15.2|
|7.1||Steals Per Game||8.9|
Aliyah Boston's numbers so far this season with South Carolina
Aliyah Boston is putting up wild numbers for @GamecockWBB 🤯 @HighlightHER— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 16, 2021
Last four games:
19 PTS | 14 REB | 4 BLK
16 PTS | 16 REB | 7 BLK
21 PTS | 17 REB | 4 BLK
29 PTS | 14 REB | 3 BLK
Don’t sleep. pic.twitter.com/JBlaPmiF7s