Defense and efficient shooting helped the Gamecocks women’s basketball team dominate rival Clemson 76-45 Wednesday night.
This game marked South Carolina's 11th consecutive win over Clemson. Each team has won 33 games in the history of the rivalry.
“13 years ago, I was like, I’d rather win against UCONN than Clemson, and then everybody was in an uproar,” head coach Dawn Staley said. “It’s great. I wish that all of our sports ... can continue to just be dominating in the series. We want to start that, we want to be that.”
Before the game, the team held a ceremony to receive its rings and unveil the 2021 Final Four banner. Even though the banner represents the team’s accomplishment, Staley said she uses it as motivation.
“When I saw the banner being unveiled, I’m like, 'I like bigger ones,’" Staley said. “You see it, versus the National Championship, and then you see the No.1 ranking, it’s significantly smaller, and we want to put big banners up.”
Clemson started the game matching the physicality of the Gamecocks. Fouls started to stack up quickly on both sides, combining for six in the first three minutes of the game.
This led to sloppy basketball and a lot of turnovers for South Carolina. The team committed 13 turnovers by halftime.
“We weren’t playing our style of play. I think we were, I mean, we were prepared for their style of play and how they were going to play us, we just didn’t execute. I thought they sped us up, I thought their defense bothered us, I thought we just — we played faster than we needed to play,” Staley said.
South Carolina locked in defensively in the second quarter. It did not allow a single field goal in the quarter and held Clemson to just three points from the free-throw line.
Clemson’s field goal percentage dropped to 20% by halftime. It was 0-7 from three in the half.
The strong defensive performance in the second quarter gave the team a 10-point advantage heading into the half.
In the third quarter, the Gamecocks built some separation. The team came out on fire behind the three-point line, shooting four threes within the first four minutes.
South Carolina shot well all game, going 48.1% from the field and hitting 8-19 of its three-point attempts.
“They’re huge, you know, and in particular on a night like tonight where we're trying to mix in a little bit of zone, you know, they step out and hit eight threes," Clemson head coach Amanda Butler said. "Obviously what they do in the paint is probably unmatched anywhere in the country so you can’t guard them just one way.”
Senior guard Destanni Henderson played a huge role for the Gamecocks, recording 16 points, six assists and five rebounds. Junior forward Aliyah Boston added 11 points, five rebounds and one block.
The game marks the end of South Carolina's homestand. The team will travel to Paradise Island to participate in the Bad Boy Mowers Women’s Battle 4 Atlantis. The Gamecocks will play Buffalo in the first round.