South Carolina tops UConn for second national championship

MINNEAPOLIS — Daybreak Staley and South Carolina buttoned up on protection and gained their second nationwide championship, stifling UConn for a 64-49 victory Sunday night time that ended the Huskies’ undefeated streak in title video games.

Destanni Henderson scored a career-high 26 factors, Aliyah Boston added 11 factors and 16 rebounds, and the Gamecocks handed Geno Auriemma’s Huskies their first loss in 12 NCAA title video games.

With Staley calling the pictures in a $5,000 letterman jacket, South Carolina took UConn to high school on the boards and capped a wire-to-wire run because the No. 1 crew within the nation in The Related Press ballot. The Gamecocks additionally gained the championship in 2017 with A’ja Wilson main the best way.

This time it was Boston — the AP Participant of the 12 months — and her fellow South Carolina submit gamers who dominated on the sport’s largest stage. The Gamecocks outrebounded UConn by 49-24, together with a 21-6 benefit on offensive boards. In addition they clamped down on star Paige Bueckers and the Huskies on protection, identical to they did all season lengthy.

It was South Carolina’s night time from the beginning. The Gamecocks (35-2) jumped out to an 11-2 lead, grabbing almost each rebound on each ends of the courtroom. They led to 22-8 after one quarter a lot to the delight of their devoted followers, who made the journey to Minneapolis to be a part of the sellout crowd.

Destanni Henderson (r.) knocks the ball away from Paige Bueckers.
Getty Photographs

UConn (30-6) trailed by 16 within the second quarter earlier than Bueckers, a Minnesota native, bought going. After having only one shot within the first quarter, she scored 9 factors within the second to get the Huskies inside 35-27 on the half. She completed with 14.

An 8-2 run to begin the third quarter put South Carolina up 43-29 earlier than the Huskies lastly began connecting from behind the arc. UConn missed its first eight 3-point makes an attempt till Caroline Ducharme made one from the wing and Evina Westbrook adopted with one other to get the Huskies inside 43-37.

That’s as shut as they might get due to Henderson.

The senior guard had a three-point play to shut the third quarter after which had the crew’s first 4 factors within the fourth to revive the double-digit lead, and the Huskies couldn’t get better.

South Carolina defeated for the nationwide championship on Sunday.

This was UConn’s first journey to the championship sport since 2016, when the Huskies gained the final of 4 straight titles. Since then, the crew has suffered heartbreaking defeats within the nationwide semifinals, dropping twice in time beyond regulation, earlier than holding off Stanford on Friday night time. The Huskies have been attempting to win their twelfth title in the identical metropolis they gained their first one in 1995.

Auriemma stated Saturday that when his crew had gained every of its 11 titles, the Huskies entered the sport as the higher crew. They actually weren’t on Sunday.

It had been one of the difficult seasons of Auriemma’s Corridor of Fame profession. UConn overcame dropping eight gamers for not less than two video games with harm or sickness, together with Bueckers, who missed almost three months with a left knee harm suffered in early December. She got here again in late February however wasn’t on the identical degree that earned her AP Participant of the 12 months as a freshman final season.

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