How South Carolina defeated the Yukon to win the national championship

MINNEAPOLIS – It was a 40-minute championship game, yes.

But if South Carolina came out on Sunday to show that an NCAA title could be called but cut out in the first four minutes of the contest, even against a powerful, fierce, carefree Connecticut, the hypothetical idea would be pressure-tested. And prove to be on the great stage of sports.

The Rooters would be eliminated in a few moments, but the Gamecocks eventually defeated the Huskies, easily, 64-49, claiming the second national championship in their history.

One of the main problems for UConn with them that night was that there was hardly ever a time of war that never seemed so appropriate.

Until the first time out of the evening, there were no more than three minutes left in the game, South Carolina had a 9-point lead and had four basketball starters. He had 7 second-chance points and 8 rebounds. UConn was a standalone setting and, without a block, not much would want to see it go again.

It was an early and vigorous possession of glory that UConn had always – always – planted in national championship games, an attack so completely magnificent and head-setting that the waist of basketball fans within the Target Center was forgiven. Was that what they were surprised at. Back in Columbia, SC the first round tournament was played pretty well to hook up!

Instead, they did because South Carolina won its second title in six seasons. Under coach Don Steele, who took office in Colombia in 2008 and became the first coach on Sunday to defeat Yukon’s Geno Auriema in the national championship game, the Gamecocks have gone from a mediocre program to a marquee. Has become the mainstay of the post-season. And a destination for high-paying jobs just as anywhere in the country.

And that was before the Sunday Showcase in Minneapolis.

But unlike UConn, the injured victim in South Carolina, Wire was the favorite to reach the championship game and deliver the title. The Gamecocks opened the season ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press pool, a place they never surrendered, with a list that included five return starters and 11 return letter sellers.

Aaliyah Boston, a 6-foot-5 junior forward from the Virgin Islands of the United States, was at the center from the start, Joggernaut, a hard-working woman, with a career-high double and, by the end of the season, a reputation as “the most in America.” Difficult person to protect “, as Orima shouted on Saturday.

“She’s scoring if she has one, two, three, four people on it,” said Orima. “It doesn’t matter. She can create the place she wants. She gets the ball at the rim whenever she wants. She rebounds whatever ball she takes after the ball. He has only one skill.

He also had a talent around him. Zia Cook, a junior guard, arrived in Minneapolis with three 20-point games this season. Bria Bell has proven herself to be one of the most dangerous defenders of women’s basketball. Destanni Henderson was already a senior senior guard who was one of the South Eastern Conference assistant leaders, and Victoria Sexton, who will play Rome. I had a go-ahead, got off the boards and hit the shot.

They only lost twice – through overtime ۾ 1 in Missouri on December 30, and 2 from Kentucky in the SEC Tournament Championship game – before they hit the storm through the NCAA Tournament. Two days after entering the game on Sunday, every South Carolina starter posted a double-digit scoring in the Final Four against Louisville, with the Gamecocks scoring an average of 70 points per game, rivaling their opponents by less than 45. Placing and dominating the game boards. , With a rebounding margin of plus-19.4, best in the field.

They were also unusual in combining opponents to score single digit points per quarter. Entering Sunday’s game, the Gamecocks had done it 39 times. The Hawkeyes were an unlikely victim to the 40th edition. But there they were after the first, after which the Gamecocks had twice more shots and collected four rebounds four times.

Six South Carolina players scored in the first. Paige Bueckers, the undefeated sophomore guard for UConn, didn’t even manage a point, and reached the Huskies 14th quarterback.

The Huskies’ offense got underway in the second half, with Yukon’s rebounding improving rapidly and the Bakers scoring 9 in that span. And although Boston played mostly quarterbacks, the Yankees didn’t hold him to any point. The advantage of South Carolina, possibly due to its strong command and second-chance capital overnight, fell gradually to 8.

The Gamecocks will push their lead further in the third. But the game was tight-lipped when South Carolina’s scoring swept through the deciding dry spell for more than four minutes without a bucket.

The Bakers, though, opened up a 10-point run for the Huskies with a jumper, part of an effort that included 14 points and 6 rebounds that night. When Evina Westbrook pushed UConn’s margin to 6 with 3 pointers, the team’s second successful shot in 30 seconds behind the arc, as the target center erupted as Connecticut flagged down Mid Court.

But Henderson, who scored the first point of the evening for South Carolina and easily led his team’s scoring on Sunday, with career-high 26 points, immediately pushed the margin back to 9 for the start of the final quarter. Henderson and Sexton soon used layups and free throws to re-adjust the double-digit lead for the Gamecocks.

On Saturday, Henderson preached how South Carolina would only need to “count on and implement our game plan.” He talked about how it can be “a great game, a great 40 minutes.”

For the Gamecocks, except maybe 22 seconds in the beginning, when they were just shut down, that was it. All Auriemma could do, he stood on the sidelines, after all the time, was to cross his arms.

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