Sunday, June 4, 2023

March Madness: Boston, South Carolina women reach Final Four

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Aliyah Boston had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Gia Cooks scored 18 points and top-seeded South Carolina took control in the second quarter to beat second-seeded Maryland 86-75. Used his strong defense. to reach their third straight Final Four.

Coach Don Staley’s team improved to 36–0 this season and posted their 42nd straight win since last year’s NCAA title run. The Gamecocks are now two games away from repeating as champions and completing their 10th undefeated season in the women’s game.

South Carolina will play Iowa and do-it-all star Kaitlyn Clarke in the national semifinals in Dallas on Friday night.

The gamecocks hugged and jumped when it was over. This is the fifth Final Four since 2015, all under Staley. She will try for her third national title next week.

Boston, the 6-foot-5 senior, made 10 of 14 shots. The three-time All-American added five assists and blocked two shots.

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Maryland (28-7) was defeated 81-56 at home by the Gamecocks last November 11, but played without injured All-American Diamond Miller.

With a healthy Miller and an offense averaging nearly 80 points per game, the Terrapins were ready to match the big, dominant Gamecocks. Maryland carried the momentum, disrupting South Carolina’s No. 1 defense and was ahead 21–15 before an edgy, pro-Gamecock crowd wasn’t sure what it was seeing.

South Carolina didn’t panic. Cooks started 0-for-3 to score nine points. Boston was its steady self with 12 points at the half as the Gamecocks outscored the Terps 23–9 in the second quarter to lead 38–30 at halftime.

Maryland got two quick baskets after the break to cut South Carolina’s lead to 48–42. But the Gamecocks responded with a 14–3 burst to take control for good.

Miller led the Terps in scoring with 24 points, looking for their first trip to the Final Four since 2015.

Maryland shot 50% for the game, yet could not settle for less against the Gamecocks. South Carolina outgained the Terps 48–26 and 25–7 on the offensive glass.

Maryland: The Terps have seven seniors, including Miller, and four other starters. But Shayne Sellers is a rising sophomore and potential focal point for Maryland’s next few seasons. Expect coach Brenda Freese to work hard in the offseason to open the portal to additions that bolster Maryland’s young roster.

South Carolina: These are certainly glory days for Gamecocks women’s basketball. Maryland gave Iowa a glimpse of what the Gamecocks could do, though they quickly adjusted to regain control. But the Terps got quick to tighten up to prevent easy layups, surely the focus will be on South Carolina’s practices this week.

AP March Madness coverage: and and

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