Apr 4, 2022 - Sports

South Carolina's dominant win cements new era in women's basketball

Dawn Staley

Photo: Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

South Carolina throttled UConn, 64-49, on Sunday to complete a wire-to-wire season of dominance and win its second national championship.

Why it matters: The Gamecocks are now one of just eight programs with multiple titles, joining UConn (11), Tennessee (8), Baylor (3), Stanford (3), Notre Dame (2), Louisiana Tech (2) and USC (2).

Wild stat: This was UConn's first loss in a national title game, men or women. The women had been 11-0 (all under Geno Auriemma) and the men are 4-0.

Game recap: South Carolina’s defense and rebounding prowess (+25 edge) gave UConn fits all night, and anytime the Huskies chipped away at the lead, their answer was fast and furious.

  • Senior swan song: Senior Destanni Henderson went out on top in more ways than one, scoring a career-high 26 points in her final game. Mic drop.
  • Most Outstanding Player: Aliyah Boston's 30th double-double of the season (11-16) made her the first national champion to average 15 points (16.8) and 15 rebounds (15.2) during the tournament.

What they're saying: "I've been thinking about this since last season, because everybody had a picture of me crying,” said Boston, who missed a would-be game-winner against Stanford in last year's Final Four. "But today we're national champions, and [all I have are] happy tears!"

The big picture: Dawn Staley's ascension to greatness has charted an eerily similar path to Auriemma's, roughly three decades apart.

  • Auriemma, 68, inherited a program in 1985 that had never been to the tournament. Four years later, he made it there. Eleven years after that, he won his second title over a coach widely considered the GOAT (Pat Summitt).
  • Dawn Staley, 51, inherited a program in 2008 that was coming off two decades of mediocrity. Four years later, she made her tournament debut. Ten years after that, she won her second title over a coach many now consider the GOAT.

Looking ahead: UConn hasn't won a championship since 2016, its longest drought since winning the first of its 11 titles in 1995. Is the dynasty over?

  • "I like our chances [next year]," said Auriemma, whose senior class will graduate without a title for the first time since 2008.
  • Paige Bueckers returns, as does fellow No. 1 recruit Azzi Fudd. And the Huskies will add two more top-five recruits in Ayanna Patterson and Isuneh Brady.

Fun fact: The last time South Carolina won the title was in 2017. The men's champion that year? UNC…

🎥 Watch: Highlights (YouTube)

Go deeper