The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: No. 1 Gamecock women’s basketball takes third straight over No. 5 UConn

<p>FILE—South Carolina junior center Kamilla Cardoso prepares for a free throw against Missouri on Jan. 15, 2022. Cardoso has scored 216 points throughout the 2022-2023 season as of Feb. 5, 2023.</p>
FILE—South Carolina junior center Kamilla Cardoso prepares for a free throw against Missouri on Jan. 15, 2022. Cardoso has scored 216 points throughout the 2022-2023 season as of Feb. 5, 2023.

In a back-and-forth rematch of the 2022 national championship game, head coach Dawn Staley and No. 1 South Carolina women's basketball team took down No. 5 Connecticut 81-77 to remain undefeated. 

The win was the Gamecocks' third straight over the Huskies, and South Carolina has now claimed three of the last four in the series.

“This was a national championship-like game, so I want us to feel what it takes in order for us to do this, to do it in the first round, the second round, the Sweet 16,” Staley said. “It is going to take this kind of effort and attention to detail, and the crowd may not be in our favor, but we have to lock in.” 

UConn started the game strong, blocking shots and outscoring the Gamecocks 25-14 in the first quarter. 

Junior forward Aaliyah Edwards led the Huskies scoring 25 points on 10-14 shooting. Edwards' performance was tied for her second-highest scoring output of the season, trailing only her 26 points against Florida State on Dec. 18. 

The Gamecocks would regroup and gain momentum by getting clean looks and blocking the Huskies' shots en route to a tied 34-34 game at halftime.

Senior forward Aliyah Boston continued to shine, earning her 76th career double-double with 26 points and 11 rebounds. 

“I'm kind of just in attack mode. The second half, ... I made more shots than I did in the first half but just stayed confident with it and just took good shots,” Boston said. 

Redshirt freshman guard Raven Johnson was strong all game defending UConn’s junior guard Nika Muhl and playing a career-high 36 minutes. Johnson finished the game with 14 points and seven assists. 

“Raven, we know, is going to push tempo. Raven, we know, is going to pick the ball up. I thought she did a phenomenal job on Muhl and disrupting,” Staley said. “We had to have her on the floor because she was that impactful defensively and offensively.”  

Junior center Kamilla Cardosa was a key component to South Carolina’s victory. Cardosa scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Gamecocks and was aggressive on both sides of the court in crucial moments. 

“She really has to take it a lot more seriously because there is not a whole lot like her. She's mobile, she's efficient, she rebounds the basketball even if it's her own misses and she’s a shot-blocker,” Staley said. “She's an intimidation factor, and she needs to play that way all the time because like I said, if she doesn't have the performance that she had today, we lose the basketball game.” 

Younger players like Johnson and sophomore guard Bree Hall were able to shine on the big stage, proving they too can compete in postseason-caliber matchups. 

“The younger players handled it well. Sometimes after the decompressing and debriefing on the game, there were probably times in which we could have played Breezy (Hall) a little bit more, but I chose to go with our experienced players,” Staley said. “I thought Raven just handled the situation well. She really doesn't get too high with the highs or low with the lows. She just plays.” 

The Gamecocks look to remain undefeated as they travel to Auburn to face the Tigers on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. 


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