South Carolina is the best team in the women's college basketball. There can be no doubt about that now.
The No. 1 Gamecocks defeated No. 2 UConn 73-57 on Monday in the championship game of the Women's Battle 4 Atlantis, overcoming a 13-point first-half deficit.
Big games from Aliyah Boston (22 points, 15 rebounds) and Zia Cooke (17 points) and South Carolina's domination on the boards (41-26, with 18 offensive rebounds) proved too much for Paige Bueckers and the Huskies to overcome.
Bueckers (19 points, seven assists, five rebounds) provided her expected offensive spark. But South Carolina's defense and depth paved the way for a dominant win, especially in the second half, when the Gamecocks outscored UConn 40-21 and held the Huskies to just three fourth-quarter points.
The Gamecocks also turned the ball over just three times in the second half after 11 first-half giveaways. That helped them overcome a poor shooting day from the perimeter (5-of-18 from deep, 27.8 percent).
It also helped that Boston controlled the paint in the second half. Not that South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley was surprised to see that level of dominance.
"It's time. It's time for Boston to be the dominant player that she is," she said in her postgame interview on ESPN. "I think she sells herself short a lot."
Bueckers may have been the big name in this matchup, but Boston was clearly the most dominant player on the court:
Statement games still only count once in the win column. But for a South Carolina program stinging from last year's Final Four loss to Stanford—and eager to prove it deserved the top overall ranking this season—Monday's victory was big.
Up next for the Gamecocks is a home matchup against Elon on Friday at 3 p.m. ET. UConn will look to get back on track on the road against Seton Hall Friday at 7 p.m. ET.