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South Carolina players seek certification for recent success, Staley seeks second title

Dawn Staley, Aliyah Boston and the South Carolina Gamecocks are one win away from finishing off a truly remarkable season.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Final Four-Semifinal-Louisville vs South Carolina
Destanni Henderson in the Final Four.
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina Gamecocks have advanced to their second national championship game in six years. Dawn Staley’s squad continued their dominant run with a 72-59 win over the Louisville Cardinals. AP national player of the year Aliyah Boston continued her magnificent season with yet another double-double: 23 points and 18 rebounds. As a team, the Gamecocks had 19 assists.

With this national championship game appearance, South Carolina now stands on the cusp of completing a truly remarkable season where they only lost twice and went undefeated against ranked teams.

The Gamecocks started off with an impressive win over the No. 5 NC State Wolfpack, 66-57. The week before Thanksgiving, they participated in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas, where they defeated the No. 9 Oregon Ducks and the No. 2 UConn Huskies in order to win the entire thing. The Gamecocks went on to beat more ranked teams, including the defending national champion, No. 2 Stanford.

However, South Carolina’s undefeated streak came to an end in a 70-69 loss to their SEC rival, the Missouri Tigers, on a last-second layup. After that loss, the Gamecocks picked up right back where they left off and continued to win convincingly and win over ranked teams.

When they got to the SEC Tournament, South Carolina did encounter a stumbling block where, after they defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks and Ole Miss Rebels, they lost to the Kentucky Wildcats in the championship Game, 64-62, on a last-second 3-pointer.

Once the Gamecocks made it to the March Madness tournament, they once again got back on track, as they rolled over the Howard Bison and the Miami Hurricanes in the first two rounds. They got a little bit of a challenge from the UNC Tar Heels in the Sweet 16, but managed to pull away thanks to Boston’s 28 points and 22 rebounds.

In the Elite Eight, South Carolina annihilated the surging Creighton Bluejays 80-50 in order to advance to the Final Four in Minneapolis. They defeated the Louisville Cardinals in the Final Four 72-59 to advance to the national championship against the UConn Huskies.

If the Gamecocks cap off this season with a championship over Geno Auriemma and the Huskies, it will serve as certification for their entire squad. It would also be the second championship for Staley, who, in her 14 years as the coach of South Carolina, has turned the program into a powerhouse right up there with the likes of Tennessee, UConn and Stanford.

For players such as Boston, Destanni Henderson and Zia Cooke, a title would solidify their legacies at South Carolina and would also greatly help their WNBA draft stock. South Carolina would become even greater at recruiting top talent and possibly become the next women’s basketball dynasty.