One of the most exciting showdowns in NCAA women’s basketball takes place on Sunday, when the No. 1 ranked South Carolina Gamecocks face the No. 2 ranked Stanford Cardinal. Both teams have won each of their games so far this season, and Sunday’s game will be their 63rd face-to-face and the seventh time they’ve played in November.
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer is looking forward to the game, which she calls a “win-win” no matter what happens. As VanDerveer told the Associated Press, “No matter what happens in the game, you’re gonna learn more about your team, people have to do the right thing. It’s sort of like a tournament game, I mean, 1-2 matchup, it’s awesome.”
South Carolina is coming into the game fresh off their 12th-straight win, having most recently bested the Clemson Tigers 85-31. Freshman Ashlyn Watkins brought the heat to the match, netting 14 points in a game that saw the Gamecocks leading the game 46-16 at halftime.
The Cardinal enjoyed their own decisive victory on Wednesday when the team took down Cal Poly 80-43. Hannah Jump charged ahead of the pack with 24 points, all of which came on 3-pointers — the second-most 3-pointers in Stanford history. Jump was expertly backed up by freshman Lauren Betts, who added 13 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks.
The Gamecocks and Cardinal narrowly missed facing off in the 2022 NCAA tournament, which saw both teams in the Final Four alongside Louisville and Connecticut, the latter of whom ultimately knocked Stanford out before losing to South Carolina.
Both teams are bringing some of the best names in NCAA women’s basketball to the court on Sunday. The Gamecocks’ Aliyah Boston has been open about her goal this season: do it all over again. While speaking to Gamecocks Online in October 2022, Boston explained, “Everyone has a goal here of winning another national championship. We have three people on our roster this year who have not been able to have that. It would be great and special for them to have that with us this year. That’s the plan. We’re just going to work hard every time we step onto the floor and make sure we’re doing things off the floor that will get us to where we want to be.”
Haley Jones and Cameron Brink head the Cardinals, and both women have been racking up points and headlines since the season’s start. Sports Illustrated reported that in the team’s Monday game against Portland, Jones alone brought in 17 points, seven rebounds, and two steals.