AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
The No. 1-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks and No. 2-seeded UConn Huskies advanced to the NCAA tournament championship game Friday night with wins over Louisville and Stanford, respectively.
South Carolina has been on a mission this season to avenge its Final Four loss to Stanford in 2021. The Gamecocks last reached the championship game in 2017, when it defeated Mississippi State to capture its first NCAA title.
UConn is on a mission to win its first title since 2016, when it defeated the Syracuse Orange to win its 11th NCAA title under head coach Geno Auriemma.
South Carolina and UConn have not met since November 2021, when the Gamecocks thrashed the Huskies 73-57 in the inaugural Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. However, UConn leads the all-time series 9-2.
That said, here’s a look at the Final Four scores and a championship preview.
Final Four Scores
No. 1 South Carolina 72, No. 1 Louisville 59
No. 2 UConn 63, No. 1 Stanford 58
The Gamecocks have been one of the most impressive teams in the NCAA tournament.
After falling to Kentucky in the SEC tournament, Dawn Staley’s squad has looked unbeatable entering the championship game. South Carolina opened with a dominant 79-21 win over No. 16 seed Howard in the first round.
The Gamecocks followed that with a 49-33 victory against No. 8 seed Miami in the second round before beating No. 5 seed UNC in the Sweet 16 69-61. Since defeating the Tar Heels, South Carolina has rolled past No. 10 seed Creighton 80-50 and defeated No. 1 seed Louisville 72-59 in the Final Four.
South Carolina has been paced by junior forward Aliyah Boston, the Associated Press Player of the Year, throughout this tournament. She is averaging 18 points, 15 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
Senior guard Destanni Henderson and junior guard Zia Cooke have also been leaders in Staley’s lineup. However, credit can also go to senior forward Victaria Saxton and junior guard Brea Beal, who have helped round out the team’s starting five.
The Gamecocks pride themselves on playing lockdown defense, and it’s going to be difficult for UConn to break down a team that is hungry for another title.
Speaking of the Huskies, let’s take a look at how they matchup against the Gamecocks.
UConn hasn’t slowed down since winning the Big East tournament. The Huskies off the NCAA tournament with an 83-38 win over No. 15 seed Mercer in the first round, before defeating No. 7 seed UCF 52-47 in the second round.
UConn knocked off No. 3 seed Indiana 75-58 in the Sweet 16. Perhaps its biggest challenge before the Final Four came against No. 1 seed NC State, whom the Huskies beat 91-87.
UConn’s most impressive win came against Stanford. It took a complete effort, and the team took down the Cardinal 63-58.
The Huskies have been led by superstar Paige Bueckers, who is averaging 15.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and three assists per game this tournament. The team has also gotten incredible performances from Azzi Fudd, Christyn Williams and Olivia Nelson-Ododa.
Against South Carolina, UConn will need to avoid foul trouble with Nelson-Ododa and Aaliyah Edwards, which has put the team in some difficult situations in this tournament already.
Edwards and Nelson-Ododa anchor the Huskies’ defense, which has improved throughout the 2021-22 season. That unit will need to have its best game yet against the Gamecocks.