The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: No. 1 Gamecocks women's basketball overcomes deficit to beat No. 2 Stanford in overtime

In an exhibition match against the Benedict Tigers on Oct. 31, 2022, the Gamecock women‘s basketball team dominated in an impressive matchup before its upcoming season. South Carolina beat Benedict 123-32 in a game that took place in front of a small crowd in Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C. 

The No. 1 South Carolina women’s basketball team earned a comeback victory at No. 2 Stanford in a 76-71 overtime win.

The Gamecocks outscored the Cardinal 32-17 in the fourth quarter and overtime combined to complete the comeback after trailing by double-digits multiple times throughout the game.

“I just thought they were clicking on all cylinders from a defensive standpoint, and then from an offensive standpoint we just simplified. You do this, you see this, you see that, whichever one is more open, you give it to them and just take what they give us,” head coach Dawn Staley said post-game.

Both squads finished with similar shooting percentages overall and from behind the three-point line and the rebound battle was also tightly contested. The home team totaled 47 rebounds compared to 41 for the visiting Gamecocks. 

While South Carolina was unable to take advantage in areas where it usually dominates — in the paint and on the boards — the top-ranked squad capitalized off Stanford turnovers, especially late. 

The Gamecocks forced 22 turnovers while only giving it away 11 times in the game and turned those opportunities into points, totaling 18 points off turnovers while Stanford finished with 9 scored off takeaways.

Senior forward Aliyah Boston was instrumental in leading the South Carolina comeback. Boston battled foul trouble to finish with 14 points and 13 rebounds highlighted by a game-tying shot that went in with two seconds remaining in regulation and sent the game to overtime.

“I think at the beginning, I was trying to push my way through the paint and (Staley) just talked about taking the little jumpers here, pulling them out and then attacking them, so I was just trying to do that,” Boston said.

Stanford jumped out to an early 10-point lead to end the first quarter led by junior forward Cameron Brink who finished with a game-high 25 points and tacked on five rebounds. 

Brink and the other Cardinal forwards were physical throughout the game leading to 23 free throw attempts for South Carolina. However, the Gamecocks made just 15 from the charity stripe, shooting 65%, while Stanford was 11-15, 73%, from the free throw line. 

South Carolina’s durability was tested in the overtime period with senior guards Brea Beal and Zia Cooke playing 38 and 36 minutes, respectively. The Gamecocks kept the momentum from its fourth quarter comeback going and the five-point difference at the finish was the biggest lead for the visitors all game.

“I just thought that we didn’t play our best and probably Stanford had a lot to do with it, but in the second half, we just decided to go with a different lineup,” Staley said. “I thought the different lineup gave us people on the floor that can score, that had a little bit experience being out there.”

While South Carolina’s bench is not a regular factor in big-time matchups such as this, non-starters for South Carolina played a pivotal role in the road victory. The Gamecocks finished with a 34 to 9 advantage in bench points.

Staley said post-game that her squad “gutted out a win” despite Stanford’s best efforts in derailing the reigning champion’s bid for a perfect season. Staley was forced to use her full rotation of players because of Boston’s foul trouble and the stingy interior defense from Stanford. 

No. 1 South Carolina (4-0) continues its road trip on Tuesday against Cal Poly at 8 p.m. The game will stream live on ESPN+.