South Carolina Gamecocks Clinch Historic Undefeated Season with NCAA Title Victory

South Carolina Gamecocks Clinch Historic Undefeated Season with NCAA Title Victory

CLEVELAND — The South Carolina Gamecocks, under the guidance of Coach Dawn Staley, triumphed in the women's NCAA tournament title game, defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes 87-75. This victory not only secured their national championship but also marked their completion of an undefeated season, a feat achieved by only 10 teams in Division I history.

A year after their perfect season was thwarted in a shocking Final Four loss, the Gamecocks made a resounding comeback, finishing this season with an impeccable 38-0 record. They now stand alongside elite programs like UConn, Baylor, Tennessee, and Texas, who have previously accomplished the undefeated season milestone.

Junior player Bree Hall encapsulated the team's dominance, declaring, "We're unbeatable," after the game. The team's journey to the top was notably challenging, given the departure of Aliyah Boston, the previous year's No. 1 WNBA draft pick, along with four starters. Yet, South Carolina defied expectations, becoming the first team since 2000 to clinch the title without returning any primary starters from a Final Four team of the preceding season.

Coach Staley, visibly moved during the postgame interview, expressed pride in her squad's historic achievement. "They etched their names in the history books when this is the unlikeliest group to do it," she said.

The victory in Cleveland was a redemption of sorts, especially as South Carolina overcame Iowa and Caitlin Clark, who had ended their season in the last year's national semifinal. Clark, who finished her college career with a record-breaking 3,951 points, was lauded by Staley for her monumental contributions to women's basketball.

Despite the defeat, Iowa's struggle for its first national championship continued, with Clark acknowledging the difficulty of clinching such victories.

South Carolina's win was bolstered by Kamilla Cardoso's standout performance, earning her the Final Four Most Outstanding Player title with 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. Cardoso's imminent departure for the WNBA draft leaves a gap, but her legacy at South Carolina is now cemented with a national championship.

The Gamecocks' rebounding prowess, particularly against Iowa (51-29), and their efficient scoring from second chances were critical to their victory. Their depth and collective strength were on full display, proving the sum of their talents greater than individual parts.

Reflecting on the season, transfer Te-Hina Paopao highlighted the team's unity and shared ambition, which culminated in their flawless season and championship win.

With this victory, South Carolina not only avenged last year's disappointment but also fortified their status as a burgeoning dynasty in women's college basketball, tying with Baylor and Stanford for the third-most national championships. Their journey from an early setback in the game to a commanding lead underscores their resilience and strategic brilliance, setting the stage for their continued dominance in the sport.