The No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks overcame their offensive struggles to beat No. 2 Stanford 76-71 in overtime on Sunday afternoon. The battle between the two most recent national champions in front of a sold-out crowd at Maples Pavilion did not disappoint.
Stanford (5-1) led for most of the game as the Gamecocks (4-0) struggled to find an offensive rhythm, but South Carolina star Aliyah Boston was not going down without a fight. A Boston jumper tied the game at 61-61 with two seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
"Coming into halftime, Coach Staley said take your time. Take what they give you," Boston said after the game. "I was trying to go at them, and she said I just need to relax and take what they give me, so I tried to read that floor a little bit better. That helped me out a lot."
Boston led her team to victory with a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds, and her game-tying shot gave the Gamecocks a chance to redeem themselves from their struggles earlier in the game. South Carolina took a 66-65 lead shortly after Stanford All-American Cameron Brink fouled out with three minutes left in overtime. Brink was solid all night, as she led all scorers with 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
The teams then traded buckets to make this a true nail-biter that could've very well ended with a Stanford win. Boston fouled out with 29 seconds left as her team led 73-69. The Gamecocks held on and are now 4-0 on the season. South Carolina has now won 16 straight games against ranked opponents, with the last loss coincidentally being against Stanford in the 2021 Final Four.
The Gamecocks got off to a slow offensive start, shooting under 30 percent from the field in the first quarter. Stanford was up by as many as 12 points, but the Gamecocks' bench kept them in the game. By halftime, the Cardinal were up just 35-31.
During the break, Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said on the broadcast that she felt her team could've done better. The Cardinal shot almost 54 percent from the field in the first two quarters and Brink scored 12 points. However, VanDerveer wasn't hasn't too happy with the 11 turnovers.
VanDerveer was right to be concerned about turnovers, as South Carolina was able to get 18 points off the Cardinal's 22 turnovers in the game.
At halftime, VanDerveer said her team had prepared for Boston's physicality and that the goal would be to keep her off the glass. Boston only registered six minutes in the first half after picking up two fouls, but VanDerveer knew she would be an issue in the second half after being able to rest. The Cardinal defense worked well on Boston for a while, but she contributed defensively while the opponents bugged her offensively.
"What we do is rebound and we defend, so I had to make sure I did that," Boston said.
The South Carolina offense was inconsistent last season, and it seems like the team is still struggling to figure it out. Coach Dawn Staley said earlier this fall that her options for the point guard position were still trying to get fully healthy and gain experience.
As a team, South Carolina shot at 38.4 percent from the field on Sunday, which is definitely not ideal. However, the defense is quite intimidating. The Gamecocks held Stanford to just seven points in the fourth quarter as the Cardinal went 1-of-12 from the field.
South Carolina will return to the court Tuesday for a road game against Cal Poly, while Stanford's next contest is at home against Florida Gulf Coast on Friday.