The South Carolina women’s basketball team defeated the No. 8 seed Miami Hurricanes 49-33 in a defensive battle Sunday. With the win, the Gamecocks advance to their eighth consecutive Sweet 16.
Offense was hard to find for both teams in this game. However, on defense, both teams refused to give its opponent clean looks at the basket.
South Carolina came into this game prepared. The team knew who to pressure on defense and when to do it. This disrupted Miami’s offense leading to 19 Hurricane turnovers for the game.
“We definitely took advantage of the scout, made sure we knew everybody that was on that scout, from what they do best, what they do worse,” junior guard Brea Beal said after the game.
Throughout the game, Miami had to deal with constant pressure on the ball handler. When the Hurricanes would eventually put up a shot, it would be contested well by South Carolina. Miami shot 24% from the floor in the game, including a 0% second quarter.
It was not until late in the game that South Carolina pulled its field goal percentage up to 30%, where it would stay. Miami’s pressure caused issues for the Gamecocks, but the team also missed open looks.
As usual, the Gamecocks controlled the glass, grabbing 49 total rebounds, 19 of which were offensive. What was out of the ordinary was the team’s failure to convert these rebounds to points, scoring only eight second-chance points.
The team’s recent offensive struggles have been a concern for the Gamecocks. However, head coach Dawn Staley said as long as they play this type of defense, the struggles on offense will not be as significant.
“As long as we’re defending, as long as we’re rebounding the basketball, those two areas really give us a good chance at winning basketball games, and at this point, the offense is cherry on top,” Staley said.
The defense has been record-breaking so far. Over the last two games, the Gamecocks have allowed just 54 points, beating the previous record of 71 for fewest points allowed in a team’s first two NCAA tournament games.
Junior forward Aliyah Boston narrowly secured her 26th consecutive double-double after hitting a pair of free-throws in the game's last two minutes. Boston struggled shooting in the game, going 4-15 from the floor, but she made up for it with her effort on defense.
“I got a little frustrated tonight, but it’s alright, I still tried to do what I could on defense and make sure I rebound the ball and put my energy in something else and I still got (a double-double),” Boston said.
Sophomore center Kamilla Cardoso played a key role in the team’s victory. She scored 11 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots. Her presence in the paint helped push the Gamecocks in the direction needed to secure the win.
“Kamilla is always a very happy person and today she played really well,” Boston said. “Coach had been telling her to just shoot the ball and she did a great job of that tonight, and I’m really proud of her.”
South Carolina will now travel to Greensboro for the Sweet 16 and, with a win, the Elite 8. The team will play the winner of the Arizona and North Carolina game, which can be watched on Monday at 10 p.m. on ESPN 2.