South Carolina beats UConn, 64-49, to take on women’s basketball championship

MINNEAPOLIS – Dawn Staley and South Carolina tied on defense and won their second national championship, stifling UConn for a 64-49 victory Sunday night that ended the Huskies’ unbeaten streak in title games.

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

With Staley calling the Scots in a $ 5,000 letterman jacket, South Carolina took UConn to school on the shelves and included a wire-to-wire run as the No. 1 pick. 1 team in the country in The Associated Press poll. The Gamecocks also won the championship in 2017 with A’ja Wilson in the lead.

This time it was Boston – the AP player of the year – and their South Carolina fellow mail players who dominated the biggest stage of the game. The Gamecocks rebounded UConn 49-24, including a 21-6 advantage on offensive boards. They also clung on star Paige Bueckers and the Huskies on defense, just like they did all season.

It was the night of South Carolina from the beginning. The Gamecocks (35-2) jumped out to an 11-2 lead, grabbing almost every rebound at both ends of the court. They led 22-8 after a quarter to the delight of their loyal fans, who made the trip to Minneapolis to be part of the sold-out crowd.

UConn (30-6) followed with 16 in the second quarter before Bueckers, a Minnesota resident, got going. After having just one shot in the first quarter, they scored nine points in the second to get the Huskies inside 35-27 at the half. They ended May 14.

An 8-2 run to begin the third quarter put South Carolina at 43-29 before the Huskies finally began to connect from behind the arc. UConn missed their first eight attempts by 3 points until Caroline Ducharme made one off the wing and Evina Westbrook followed up with another to get the Huskies inside 43-37.

That’s as close as they could get because of Henderson.

The senior guard had a three-point game to close out the third quarter and then had the team’s first four points in the fourth to restore the double-digit lead, and the Huskies were unable to recover.

This was UConn’s first trip to the championship since 2016, when the Huskies won the last of four straight titles. Since then, the team has suffered heartbreaking defeats in the national semifinals, losing twice in overtime, before Stanford held off Friday night. The Huskies tried to win their 12th title in the same city as they won their first in 1995.

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