MINNEAPOLIS — Dawn Staley and South Carolina buttoned up on protection and received their second nationwide championship, stifling UConn for a 64-49 victory Sunday evening that ended the Huskies’ undefeated streak in title video games.
Destanni Henderson scored a career-high 26 factors, Aliyah Boston added 11 factors and 16 rebounds, and the Gamecocks handed Geno Auriemma’s Huskies their first loss in 12 NCAA title video games.
With Staley calling the photographs in a $5,000 letterman jacket, South Carolina took UConn to high school on the boards and capped a wire-to-wire run because the No. 1 crew within the nation in The Associated Press ballot. The Gamecocks additionally received the championship in 2017 with A’ja Wilson main the best way.
This time it was Boston — the AP Player of the Year — and her fellow South Carolina publish gamers who dominated on the sport’s greatest stage. The Gamecocks outrebounded UConn by 49-24, together with a 21-6 benefit on offensive boards. They additionally clamped down on star Paige Bueckers and the Huskies on protection, identical to they did all season lengthy.
It was South Carolina’s evening from the beginning. The Gamecocks (35-2) jumped out to an 11-2 lead, grabbing almost each rebound on each ends of the courtroom. They led to 22-8 after one quarter a lot to the delight of their trustworthy followers, who made the journey to Minneapolis to be a part of the sellout crowd.
UConn (30-6) trailed by 16 within the second quarter earlier than Bueckers, a Minnesota native, received going. After having only one shot within the first quarter, she scored 9 factors within the second to get the Huskies inside 35-27 on the half. She completed with 14.
An 8-2 run to begin the third quarter put South Carolina up 43-29 earlier than the Huskies lastly began connecting from behind the arc. UConn missed its first eight 3-point makes an attempt till Caroline Ducharme made one from the wing and Evina Westbrook adopted with one other to get the Huskies inside 43-37.
That’s as shut as they might get due to Henderson.
The senior guard had a three-point play to shut the third quarter after which had the crew’s first 4 factors within the fourth to revive the double-digit lead, and the Huskies couldn’t get well.
This was UConn’s first journey to the championship sport since 2016, when the Huskies received the final of 4 straight titles. Since then, the crew has suffered heartbreaking defeats within the nationwide semifinals, shedding twice in additional time, earlier than holding off Stanford on Friday evening. The Huskies have been making an attempt to win their twelfth title in the identical metropolis they received their first one in 1995.