Staley leads South Carolina to second NCAA title ahead of UConn

MINNEAPOLIS — Dawn Staley and South Carolina buttoned up on defense and won their second national championship, choking UConn for a 64-49 win Sunday night that ended the Huskies’ undefeated streak in title games.

Destanni Henderson posted 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 shots in a $5,000 Letterman jacket, South Carolina brought UConn to school and capped a wire-to-wire run as the No. 1 team in the country in a poll by The Associated Press. The Gamecocks also won the championship in 2017 with A’ja Wilson at the helm.

This time it was Boston – the AP Player of the Year – and her Post South Carolina players who dominated the game’s biggest stage. The Gamecocks passed UConn by 25, including a 21-6 advantage on offensive boards. They also took on star Paige Bueckers and the Huskies on defense just like they have done all season.


It was South Carolina night from the start. The Gamecocks (35-2) took an 11-2 lead, grabbing almost every rebound on either end of the court. They led 22-8 after one quarter, much to the delight of their loyal fans, who traveled to Minneapolis to be part of the sold-out crowd.

UConn (30-6) trailed by 16 in the second quarter before Bueckers, a Minnesota native, got going. After only one shot in the first quarter, she scored nine points in the second to put the Huskies 35-27 at halftime. She graduated at 14.

An 8-2 run early in the third quarter gave South Carolina a 43-29 lead before the Huskies finally started connecting behind the arc. UConn missed their first eight 3-point attempts until Caroline Ducharme made one from the wing and Evina Westbrook followed up with another to put the Huskies within 43-37.

They couldn’t get that close because of Henderson.


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


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Joel McCord

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