Aliyah Boston had 22 points and 10 rebounds and top-seeded South Carolina used their smothering defense to stop Maryland 86-75 on Monday night and reach their third straight Final Four.
Do-it-all star Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes await in the national semi-finals in Dallas on Friday, a game featuring two of the biggest stars in the sport. That can wait for now. Her players deserve that, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said.
“I just want to enjoy this and just give our players an opportunity to be talked about,” Staley said. “The joy that I feel for this team to be able to be where they are, I’m just really happy.”
Staley’s team improved to 36-0 this season with their 42nd straight victory, dating back to last year’s NCAA title run. The Gamecocks are now two games away from repeating as champions and completing the 10th undefeated season in the women’s game.
The Gamecocks hugged and jumped when it was over. It’s the fifth Final Four since 2015, all under Staley. She’ll try for her third national title next week.
“Not a lot of teams can say they’re able to do this,” Boston said. “So for us to be able to do it feels really good, and it’s such a blessing we won’t ever take for granted.”
In Monday’s other game, Elizabeth Kitley scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, Georgia Amoore added 24 points and top-seeded Virginia Tech advanced to the Final Four for the first time with an 84-74 win over No 3 seed Ohio State.
For the seventh time in the past 10 Final Fours there will be a first-time participant and it’s the champions of the ACC, adding another accomplishment to the best season in school history.
Playing in their first regional final, Virginia Tech won their 15th straight game and will head to the Final Four undefeated in more than two months. The Hokies will face LSU in the national semi-finals on Friday in Dallas.
“We’re not just going to the Final Four. We’re in the Final Four. That’s something that means the world to me,” Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks said.
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