The time has come back again & the South Carolina Lady Gamecocks are back in the National Championship, facing off against the UConn Huskies.
During the first quarter, the Lady Gamecocks put on an absolute show. The defense was insanely good, causing five turnovers, nine second-chance points, and keeping the UConn star Paige Bueckers scoreless. Offenses started crashing the boards early, getting five offensive rebounds in the first 4 minutes, making just 12 in the first quarter.
Carolina started to play slightly sluggish as they missed 12 of their last 13 shots allowing UCONN to cut their 18-point deficit to just eight at the half. Carolina’s control of the glass has been the critical factor in why they’ve been in control of the game.
Bueckers started slow but put the key in the ignition in the second quarter as she finished the half with 9 points being 4-7 from the field.
Carolina’s Destanni Henderson finished the half with 11 points being 3-3 from behind the line.
At the beginning of the 3rd, Carolina began to play just like they did in the first, firing on all cylinders & continuing to grab the board. Their defense is also playing stellar, holding UConn to just 2 points in nearly the first five minutes of the second half.
As the final quarter begins, Henderson continues to light the floor. With just under 8 minutes remaining, she leads in double figures with 20 points and continues to lock up Bueckers.
Twenty-six career points for Destanni Henderson and the huge comeback for Boston as most remembered the missed put-back in last year’s tournament game that knocked them out of the final four, to now tonight being crowned a National Champion. A better finish for the Lady Gamecocks and coach Dawn Staley as she becomes the first Black coach in Division 1 history to win multiple National Championships. A tremendous effort all around from both teams.
Notable Notes via South Carolina Athletics
- The national title victory also clinched a program-record with 35 wins, breaking a tie with the 2014-15 team. Of those 35 wins, the Gamecocks finish with a perfect 14-0 record against nationally ranked teams, another program single-season record.
- Dawn Staley is just the sixth head coach in women’s NCAA tournament history to win more than one national championship.
- Aliyah Boston was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, after averaging 17 points, 17 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 blocks per game in Minneapolis.
- Boston’s 11 points and 16 rebounds give her 30 double-doubles for the season. The junior entered the 2021-22 season with 30 career double-doubles in her first two seasons combined (64 games).
- Destanni Henderson truly saved her best for last; the senior point guard scored a career-high 26 points in the game, including 10 in the fourth quarter alone. Per ESPN Stats and Information, Henderson is the first player since 2000 to have a career-high scoring game in the national championship.
- Henderson’s performance gives her 1,220 career points, moving her up to 24th in program history for career points and her 157 career 3s made is eighth in program history.
- Sunday marked the first loss in a NCAA championship game for UConn.
- Holding the Huskies 25 points under their season scoring average, Sunday extended a streak of 47-straight games where South Carolina held its opponent to under their season average for scoring.
- The Gamecocks set the tone early and won the hustle game in the opening quarter, starting the first five minutes of the game with a 13-2 run. Of those 13 points, nine came off second-chance opportunities as Carolina had six offensive rebounds. Zia Cooke started with the hot hand shooting, hitting her first three shots.
- The defense held UConn to its fewest points in a quarter this season – eight – in the first quarter, jumping out to a 22-8 lead. The Huskies were out-shot 20-9 by Carolina and had more turnovers (5) than made field goals (4).
- The rebounding advantage held for the entire first half. The Gamecocks went into the locker room with a 25-13 advantage on the glass and 16 offensive rebounds that led to 17 second-chance points.
- South Carolina ended the game doubling up UConn on the boards, 49-24, highlighted by a 21-6 advantage in offensive rebounds and +17 in second-chance points (22-5). The +25 rebounding margin is the second-largest in a title game in NCAA tournament history.