The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: Destanni Henderson leads women’s basketball comeback victory over No. 2 Stanford

Senior forward Victaria Saxton works to gain possession of the ball during the tip-off. The Gamecocks beat Stanford 65-61.
Senior forward Victaria Saxton works to gain possession of the ball during the tip-off. The Gamecocks beat Stanford 65-61.

The No. 1 ranked South Carolina women's basketball team defeated No. 2 Stanford 65-61 on Tuesday for its fifth victory over a Top-10 opponent this season. The Gamecocks are now 12-0 and remain the top team in the nation with a full SEC slate coming up.

“I just feel with every big win that we have, it instills some confidence in our team; they know they’re pretty good and they know they can defend pretty well,” head coach Dawn Staley said after the win.

Stanford came out shooting and used the momentum from six three-pointers in the first half, on 55% from behind the arc, to build an 18-point lead in the second quarter and take a 42-28 advantage into halftime.

After the break, the Gamecocks outscored the visiting Cardinals 22-7 in the third quarter and reclaimed the lead, 50-49, entering the final period. Staley credited senior guard Destanni Henderson for her resilience in her first game back from injury.

“She’s a senior, she’s been in these situations before and I know she wanted to help us when she was out," Staley said. "She bottled it up and performed at the time we really needed her to perform."

Henderson recorded 17 points and seven assists in her return, in addition to seven steals, which created fast-break opportunities and helped to jump-start the South Carolina offense in the second half. 

Junior forward Aliyah Boston continued her run of dominance, posting 18 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks and four steals. Boston played 38 minutes for Staley, who praised her efforts.

“This is what she’s been doing: she’s a shot maker, she’s a shot blocker, she’s a rebounder, she’s a playmaker and she’s continuing to come into her own,” Staley said.

South Carolina’s defensive intensity turned the tide of the high-profile matchup in the second half and earned the home team a 26-6 advantage on points off of turnovers. The 18-point comeback was the largest in program history for the Gamecocks.

“To have to come out of the locker room because we’re down or we didn’t play the way we needed to play, I think sometimes it just allows us to calibrate a little bit,” Staley said.

Staley mentioned the impact of the Gamecocks fans multiple times. 13,079 fans came to watch the game days before Christmas, providing a top atmosphere for the showdown.

Staley and the Gamecocks will travel to Columbia, Missouri on Dec. 30 to face the Missouri Tigers (10-2) in the team’s first SEC contest of the season.