The No. 1 seed South Carolina women’s basketball team delivered in dominant fashion Sunday night, defeating No. 10 seed Creighton 80-50 at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.
With the victory, the Gamecocks advanced to the Final Four for the second consecutive season and for the third time in the last five tournaments.
“It was pressure-packed the entire season, and it's a relief to know that we're back, and now we can settle in and try to get this thing done,” head coach Dawn Staley said.
South Carolina had its most efficient offensive game of the tournament, shooting 28-55 (50.9%) from the floor in the game. The team reached its offensive peak in the second quarter, where it went on a 19-2 scoring run over a six-minute period and headed into halftime with a 60% field goal percentage.
Creighton defenders packed the paint intending to minimize the impact of South Carolina’s height advantage, but to no avail — the Gamecocks outrebounded the Blue Jays 43-23. The focus Creighton’s defense placed inside allowed South Carolina guards to make plays from other areas of the court.
“As the game was going on, they were doubling Aliyah (Boston) before she had the ball, when she got the ball. And then it created scoring opportunities for Brea Beal and Lele (Grissett) and some of our other guards, and Henny (senior guard Destanni Henderson),” Staley said.
The double teams placed on junior forward Aliyah Boston did have effect on her stat line, however, as she failed to record a double-double for the first time in 28 games. Despite losing the record-setting streak, Boston said it was not much of her concern.
“We’re onto the Final Four. So as the streak ends, it’s all right,” Boston said. “But we’re still playing, so that’s all that matters.”
South Carolina remained solid on the defensive end of the floor as well, forcing 11 Creighton turnovers. The Gamecocks demonstrated discipline while thwarting the Blue Jays’ attacks, as Creighton did not attempt a free throw until the third quarter.
“The biggest adjustment we made was on the defensive side of the ball,” Staley said. “We just really concentrated on whoever had the ball, that we were going to all-out pressure them and make them put the ball on the floor.”
After making it to her fourth Final Four as South Carolina’s head coach, Staley said the confetti that fell on the court served as a reminder of all the hard work it took to get to that point.
“It is just a constant reminder of going to get it, you know, going to get it — creating these great experiences for our players and our coaches and everybody in our program, because we work really hard. And it's really hard to get to a Final Four, really hard,” Staley said. “So I'm just happy that we're able to do it, and I'm going to keep collecting it."
Boston said she is looking forward to what the team can accomplish as it prepares for the rest of the tournament.
“It's been a long season of workouts and stuff. And it's just, we've worked hard,” Boston said. “We're very excited about it and can't wait to see what's next.
South Carolina will return to action on April 1, when it will face off against the winner of Monday’s Elite Eight matchup between Louisville and Michigan at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.