South Carolina beats UConn in No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown behind defense, Aliyah Boston
Final: No. 1 South Carolina 73, No. 2 UConn 57
Top-ranked South Carolina turned its fortune around by returning to its identity — pressure defense and its fast-pace offense — to defeat No. 2 UConn, 73-57. The win makes South Carolina the Battle 4 Atlantis champs and allows them to hold their No. 1 ranking in the upcoming AP Top 25 poll.
The momentum started to shift for the Gamecocks in the third quarter by getting stops, but what was most impressive was holding UConn to only three points in the final quarter while South Carolina went on to outscore them by 16 points. In fact, the Gamecocks closed out the final quarter in dominating fashion with a 10-0 run. The Huskies also couldn't find an answer for South Carolina on the glass as the Gamecocks out-rebounded the Huskies, 41-26.
Aliyah Boston showed why she's one of the best centers in the nation recording her 31st double-double, scoring 22 points while grabbing 15 rebounds. The Gamecocks' backcourt was incredible with Zia Cooke scoring 17 points and its floor general Destanni Henderson added 15 points.
UConn's Paige Bueckers led the Huskies with 19 points and Evina Westbrook finished with 14 points, but the Huskies' offense slowed down due to the Gamecocks' stifling defense.
Never gave up, only got stronger. @B4AOfficial Champions!— GamecockWBB (@GamecockWBB) November 22, 2021
That fourth quarter felt like we were back in the CLA, thanks to the FAMs who made this one feel like a home game! pic.twitter.com/e3ycSKLEHC
End of 3Q: No. 1 South Carolina 57, No. 2 UConn 54
We have a close game heading into the final quarter! South Carolina came out of the half a different team making the necessary adjustments to remain competitive and to protect the No. 1 national ranking.
We immediately saw South Carolina crank up its defense, forcing UConn to 12 turnovers while the Gamecocks currently have 11.
South Carolina taking the three-point lead is credit to its incredible backcourt-front court duo Zia Cooke and Aliyah Boston, creating a third quarter attack right out the gates. So far, Boston has put up 18 points, while Cooke chips in 17. Plus, the Gamecocks have been capitalizing off of the offensive rebounds with 17 second chance points.
For UConn, Paige Bueckers leads the Huskies with 19 points. But UConn has shot an uncharacteristic attempt of 2-for-4 from beyond the arc.
Boston heats up 🔥
3Q: @aa_boston already with her 31st career double-double and she is firing us UP with this and-1! UConn with a pair of turnovers now and it's a 46-42 lead for the Gamecocks!— GamecockWBB (@GamecockWBB) November 22, 2021
STATS: https://t.co/MZBEsn2UyR pic.twitter.com/sb61ASxcbY
Halftime: No. 1 South Carolina 33, UConn 36
It's been a team effort for UConn, sharing the ball well and finding the best shot selection with 12 assists. UConn has thrived in transition as they've continuously pushed the pace, scoring 13 fast-break points. Paige Bueckers leads the UConn with 13 points and five assists, so far.
However, South Carolina started the second quarter cold for the first three minutes, but the Gamecocks were able to take control of the game with a 6-0 run. That was paced by Zia Cooke, coming off of the bench after she suffered two personal fouls early in the first quarter.
Cooke has 11 points and Aliyah Boston has chipped in 11 and nine rebounds of her own. Unfortunately, turnovers have plagued the Gamecocks from running a consistent offense. South Carolina will look to make some adjustments, turn back on its suffocating defense and run its face-past offense to take back the lead. But the Gamecocks are in a better position than they were as they were once down by 13 and have now brought it to a three-point game going into the third quarter.
Zia Cooke's impact ‼️
There's no question that Zia Cooke is needed on the floor. Cooke sat majority of the first quarter with two personal fouls as UConn took off with a lead and hasn't lost it since. Heading into the second quarter, Cooke has made an immediate impact off the bench, creating offensive sparks for South Carolina, while going head-to-head with Christyn Williams. Cooke currently has nine points.
2Q: @zia_cooke goes to the hoop and earns the and-one opportunity! She's up to nine this afternoon, a team high.— GamecockWBB (@GamecockWBB) November 22, 2021
STATS: https://t.co/MZBEsn2UyR pic.twitter.com/synhbdxPSs
End of 1Q: No. 1 South Carolina 14, No. 2 UConn 20
Turnovers. That was the name of the game for South Carolina in the first quarter. It started pretty with a 9-0 run, but got ugly quick as South Carolina turned the ball over eight times. UConn turned those mistakes into nine points taking off on an 11-0 run of their own.
It was all transition points for UConn to dominate the first quarter. Evina Westbrook created the energy, and Paige Bueckers fed off of her. Both Huskies finished the quarter with nine points each. Westbrook did not miss the entire quarter, shooting 3-for-3 from the floor, 1-for-1 from the three and 2-for-2 from the charity stripe.
Boston ended the quarter with her second three of the game to cut the deficit down, 20-16. Boston currently has nine points.
UConn leads South Carolina 12-8 at the first media timeout
South Carolina went on a 6-0 run paired with its pressure defense to leave UConn scoreless for the first three minutes, but...that did not last long. The Huskies began to capitalize off of the Gamecocks mistakes, scoring four points off of its turnovers.
An AND-1 play by Evina Westbrook in transition ended its scoring drought, and that gave the Huskies momentum with three-consecutive buckets in transition to take the lead. Evina Westbrook forces the first timeout by hitting a clutch three that turns into a four-point play after getting fouled by Zia Cooke, who now sits on the bench with two personal fouls. Westbrook leads the Huskies with nine points.
E for THREE— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) November 22, 2021
and the foul! pic.twitter.com/V4lNzy50cO
It's almost time for tip-off!
At noon, No. 1 South Carolina will face No. 2 UConn in a non-conference rematch in the Battle 4 Atlantis Finals. Will there be a new No. 1 team in women's college basketball after the top-2 matchup? We will find out tomorrow when the AP Top 25 is released!
According to the Associated Press: "The championship game of the inaugural women’s Battle 4 Atlantis tournament will take place at approximately the same time the AP Top 25 is released each Monday. The AP decided to hold the poll one day so it will reflect the outcome – only the second time since the poll began in 1976 that it has been delayed."
We know it's Monday, but, hope you'll be locked in with us, FAMS!— GamecockWBB (@GamecockWBB) November 22, 2021
#1 Gamecocks vs. #2 Huskies
📍 Paradise Island, Bahamas
⏰ Noon ET
📺 @espn (https://t.co/SkyI3LmB1a)
📻 1320 AM (https://t.co/voOlfkOdgd)
📝 https://t.co/NssdpcvJkj pic.twitter.com/GCVnuh47A1
How to watch No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 2 UConn
WHEN: You can watch No. 2 UConn and Paige Bueckers (above) take on No. 1 South Carolina at 12 p.m. ET on Monday, Nov. 22.
HOW TO WATCH ON TV: The game will be televised on ESPN. You can also stream on WatchESPN.
LOCATION: Paradise Island, Bahamas
Click here to see Monday's full women's basketball opening day schedule and scoreboard.
South Carolina vs. UConn previews from both schools
Christmas came early!
We get a top-2 matchup when No. 1 South Carolina faces No. 2 UConn on Monday, Nov. 22 in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. The 12-game, three-day tournament comes down to these top two nationally ranked teams in the championship round, which also includes Oregon, South Florida, Syracuse, Oklahoma and Syracuse.
This will be a non-conference rematch we saw back in February during the 2020-21 women's college basketball season when UConn took down South Carolina to claim the No. 1 throne, 63-59, in overtime. The setup of this possible 2022 Final Four matchup shakes out the same way, but earlier in the season, as UConn comes in eyeing the No. 1 spot...again.
We all remember the iconic three-pointer Paige Bueckers launched that hit the rim and bounced high into the air as everyone held their breath. Eventually, the ball fell perfectly down the net to put the dagger in the game. Bueckers put on a one-man show, going on a scoring rampage with 31 points against the Gamecocks. In fact, she scored UConn's final 13 points alone to conquer the upset, including back-to-back points that sent the Huskies into overtime and all nine points in the extra quarter.
Aaliyah Boston recorded a double-double, scoring 17 points while grabbing 15 rebounds and Destanni Henderson and Zia Cooke both had 11 points each. Unfortunately, South Carolina was plagued by turnovers as UConn scored 19 points off of its mistakes. The Gamecocks also struggled to score, especially down the stretch, shooting 36.8 percent from the floor and only 11 percent from beyond the arc.
The upset snapped South Carolina's 12-game winning streak after NC State gave the Gamecocks its first upset of the season. Before then, South Carolina owned the No. 1 spot for the past 12 AP polls that dated back to the 2019-20 season.
The battle of the backcourts will be must-see tv as Paige Bueckers and Christyn Williams will take on Zia Cooke and Destanni Henderson — two of the best duos in college basketball. However, UConn's main priority will be finding a way to shut down South Carolina's interior game, which features All-American Aliyah Boston and endless weapons who relentlessly attack the basket.
Here's a look at the Gamecocks' season preview, courtesy of gamecocksonline.com:
South Carolina preview
- With a 16-player roster, South Carolina is three-deep at every position. The group features 11 McDonald's All-Americans, including all five newcomers.
- The Gamecocks finished last season ranked third in the nation in rebounding margin (+14.4) and second in blocks per game (7.0).
- Junior Aliyah Boston has been collecting national accolades throughout her career, and she is starting her third season with the same level of recognition. A unanimous First-Team All-American, she was also named to the Lisa Leslie Center Award Watch List — an award she won in each of her first two seasons.
- Junior Zia Cooke's stellar NCAA tournament outings cemented her national presence. She enters this season as a Preseason Third-Team All-American, according to Lindy's. Cooke also made her second appearance in as many seasons on the Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard Award Watch List.
- USA Today moved senior Destanni Henderson into Preseason All-America status, placing her on its second team. She is also on the watch list for the Nancy Lieberman Point Guard Award.
- Sophomore transfer Kamilla Cardoso earned a spot on the Lisa Leslie Center Award Watch List, her second preseason selection to that list.
- Freshman Sania Feagin joined in the positional accolades last week, grabbing a spot on the Katrina McClain Power Forward Award Watch List.
BY THE NUMBERS
2 — Two of the Gamecocks' four freshmen earned National Player of the Year honors to cap their high school careers.
3 — Three Gamecocks have earned preseason All-America honors entering the season — Raven Johnson, Saniya Rivers.
South Carolina vs UConn: stat breakdown and team comparison
With two teams with endless depth, let's take a look at how these top two teams compare:
|5-0 ( 0-0 SEC)||Record (conference games)||3-0 (0-0 Big East)|
|Final Four||2021 NCAA tournament finish||Final Four|
|76.4||Points Per Game||81.0|
|.498||Field Goal %||.558|
|43.4||Rebounds Per Game||34.3|
|16.8||Assists Per Game||21.0|
|17.8||Turnovers Per Game||13.0|
|6.4||Steals Per Game||7.0|