The South Carolina Gamecocks women’s basketball team led wire-to-wire on its way to its second national championship in program history. The Gamecocks defeated the University of Connecticut 64-49 on Sunday night in Minneapolis to crown its 35-2 season with a national title.
“I thought our players were just really resilient and they didn’t want to lose this so close to being national champions," head coach Dawn Staley said. "They did not want to lose this battle, so they kicked it into another gear to get it done."
With the win, Staley becomes the first Black head basketball coach — in men’s and women’s basketball — to win multiple national championships.
South Carolina delivered an overpowering performance in the title game, outrebounding the Huskies 49 to 24 including a 21 to six advantage on the offensive glass. The Gamecocks translated the rebound advantage into 22 second chance points.
Senior guard Destanni Henderson scored a career-high 26 points in her final game as a Gamecock to lead her team to victory. Henderson said the team went on a season-long grind to achieve its goal of winning a title.
“We fought since day one, and we knew that we could come out on top this year,” Henderson said. “Our coaches have just prepared us for this moment, our teammates just believed in us since day one and we all just came in ready to play and fighting with grit.”
Henderson was aggressive on both ends of the floor and Staley praised her for trusting the process throughout her college career.
“Henny was patient enough to wait for those things, and now she’ll go on — she’ll be in the record books. She’ll be the one that we’ll remember her performance, we’ll remember her doing the job both offensively and defensively,” Staley said.
Junior forward Aliyah Boston turned in another captivating performance. She finished with 11 points and 16 rebounds for her 30th double-double of the season and added two blocks and three assists. Boston said the team's ability to hold its No. 1 ranking throughout the season is a testament to their talent.
“I think Coach Staley did a great job of scheduling us a hard nonconference schedule which kept us prepared and we were able to fight through all those games, so it shows you how determined we were to continue to be successful,” Boston said.
The 2022 South Carolina women’s basketball national championship team rises above all others in program history, Staley said.
“I do think this is our best team, just the roster from top to bottom, the commitment to their roles,” Staley said. “They can defend. This team can really, really defend. I think we’re an elite defensive team, that’s the separator from my other teams.”
Staley said she is "just basking in our glory of winning the national championship."