Well. 1 South Carolina outlasts No. 2 Stanford in overtime

STANFORD, Calif. — The No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks survived in an overtime battle of the top two ranked teams in Women’s basketball Sunday, defeating the No. 2 Stanford Cardinal 76-71 at a sold-out Maples Pavilion.

It was the third game between the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in NCAA Women’s basketball history to go into overtime; the others were South Carolina vs. the UConn Huskies in 2021 (won by UConn) and Stanford vs. the Tennessee Lady Volunteers in 1992 (won by Tennessee).

“Great coaching, the players did a great job, the crowd was electric,” South Carolina Coach Dawn Staley said. “This is what Women’s basketball is about. This game only helps both teams.”

In a Matchup of the past two national champions, the Cardinal nearly beat a No. 1 team is on their home court for the fourth time in a row. The program previously defeated top-ranked Tennessee (2007) and UConn (2010, 2014) at Maples. Stanford led 54-44 going into the fourth quarter but was outscored 17-7 in that period, during which the Cardinal didn’t score for the first six minutes.

Stanford also made two critical Mistakes in the last 10 seconds of overtime, with a five-second violation as Haley Jones tried to throw an inbounds pass and a technical when Kiki Iriafen called a timeout the Cardinal didn’t have. The loss snapped Stanford’s 56-game home winning streak when leading at halftime, dating back to a 2017 loss to Western Illinois.

“It was very disappointing to have the lead that we had and not finish the job,” Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer said.

Instead, South Carolina won its 16th consecutive game against a ranked foe. It is the second-longest streak in SEC history, behind Tennessee (22, in 1997-98). The Gamecocks also rallied last year to win their regular-season game against Stanford, winning that one 65-61 at South Carolina in December 2021.

Sunday’s game matched two Seniors currently projected as the top two Picks in the 2023 WNBA draft: South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston and Stanford’s Jones.

Boston, last season’s national player of the year, had 14 points and 13 rebounds, including the tying basket with 2.1 seconds left in regulation. With 28.8 seconds left in overtime, Boston fouled out for just the second time in her career and first time since her freshman season. But by that point, South Carolina had regained the lead.

“In the huddle, Coach [Dawn Staley] kept saying, ‘We’ve got to fight,'” Boston said. “I think it will boost our confidence, but it shows we need to hit first. We’re very resilient.”

Jones had 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists. But Cardinal junior forward Cameron Brink was the star of the game, finishing with 25 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots. She fouled out with 3:01 left in overtime.

The 6-foot-4 Brink is the only Stanford player over the past 20 seasons to record at least 25 points and four blocks against a top-five foe.

“She is developing into something pretty special,” Staley said of Brink, who was 8-of-13 from the floor, making two 3-pointers. “The 3s just elevate her game. Her ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. And not just making shots, but her ability to force you to foul her.”

Still, it was Boston and the Gamecocks’ bench — which outscored Stanford’s bench 34-9 — that prevailed.

“They sent a double, and they were very aggressive,” Boston said. “My teammates stepped up and were hitting shots, driving and attacking, and finding the holes in their defense.”

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