Aliyah Boston carries South Carolina to title game berth with win over Louisville

ByLois C

Apr 2, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

MINNEAPOLIS — This time, Aliyah Boston and the South Carolina Gamecocks were smiling as they strutted off the court at the Final Four.

The only crying arrived from reduction and joy, just one yr right after a painfully opposite finish in the national semifinals.

Boston took around following halftime and concluded with 23 points and 18 rebounds to again up her AP Nationwide Player of the 12 months award, carrying South Carolina to the NCAA championship recreation with a 72-59 victory over Louisville on Friday night time.

“You see happy tears, joyful tears, ideal now,” Boston said in her postgame Television interview. “I’m just thanking God we have 1 far more match.”

Brea Beal matched her year substantial with 12 details and helped maintain Cardinals star Hailey Van Lith to 9 points on 4-for-11 taking pictures as the Gamecocks (34-2) delivered another stifling defensive efficiency and innovative to satisfy the Connecticut-Stanford winner on Sunday night time.

“Life in typical, it’s going to toss checks at you. You are heading to have to move the exams or you are going to have to retake them,” claimed mentor Dawn Staley, who will test to win her second nationwide championship with South Carolina eight months just after the Hall of Famer led the U.S. staff to a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics.

Destanni Henderson scored 11 details with 3-for-6 capturing from 3-stage variety for South Carolina, which experienced a 19-5 helps gain and enhanced to 13- this time against AP-rated opponents.

Emily Engstler led Louisville with 18 details and nine rebounds as the Cardinals went 1 for 8 from 3-position assortment and have been by no means able to locate a rhythm in the fifty percent court in opposition to the No. 1 total seed in this tournament.

South Carolina, which received it all in 2017, was ousted in the semifinals past year by a single point to eventual winner Stanford when Boston’s put-back again try bounced off the rim at the buzzer. The 6-foot-5 junior from the U.S. Virgin Islands has bounced appropriate back a calendar year later, and the Gamecocks have adopted her direct.

“We knew that were being heading to be examined, and this is the hump that we will need to get in excess of,” Boston claimed.

Kianna Smith and Olivia Cochran just about every scored 14 factors for the Cardinals (29-5), who were the only staff in this Closing Four without the need of an NCAA championship in their trophy situation. This was the program’s fourth trip to the nationwide semifinals in coach Jeff Walz’s 15 seasons.

“You don’t ever want to say that is your favorite team, simply because then all your earlier groups get mad at you, but I’d set this group appropriate up there at the leading,” Walz stated. “It was just an absolute pleasure to mentor.”

The Gamecocks, who were the wire-to-wire No. 1 group in the AP poll this season, squeezed their to start with four event opponents in the Greensboro Location to a bleak regular of 41.2 factors on their way to a fourth Closing Four in the last 7 decades.

The Cardinals, just one of the 3 No. 1 seeds in this Last Four, built it out of the Wichita Location without having any trouble. Van Lith, the relentless sophomore guard with the perpetually flopping blond pigtails, strike the 20-place mark in just about every of their 1st 4 tournament video games.

LOCKDOWN ON LOUISVILLE

Van Lith satisfied her match with Beal, who had a 4-inch top benefit and shadowed her all above the court as she generally does to the opponent’s most risky player. Van Lith, whose 1st basket arrived on a knifing drive for a layup with 1:43 still left in the second quarter, experienced two jumpers blocked by Beal and three turnovers in the very first 50 percent.

Engstler, the difficult-as-nails transfer from Syracuse, aided Louisville maintain Boston from acquiring much too cozy in the paint whilst Cochran aided with the muscle mass. Bodily participate in can appear with a value, nevertheless, and with 4.2 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter Boston drew Engstler’s fourth foul on a putback layup and stretched the guide to 57-48 with the and-one particular absolutely free throw.

Engstler fouled out with 4:56 to go and had her head buried in her clenched hands on the bench as her teammates tried out to console her.

“I imagine we really should all depart this arena and Minneapolis with our heads held pretty significant. I’m incredibly proud of this group, and I’ve had an incredible time with them,” Engstler stated.

BOSTON Sturdy

Immediately after placing up 28 points and 22 rebounds in the Sweet 16 from North Carolina, Boston experienced loads remaining for the Closing 4.

Wearing her familiar vibrant braids in a brilliant-pink-and-purple combination, Boston helped the Gamecocks set a commanding tone early with an 11-2 direct. The Cardinals missed 7 of their initially eight pictures from the flooring.

Louisville liked a 12- run early in the 2nd quarter to get a limited-lived 3-issue edge, but South Carolina simply just experienced so a lot extra to offer you following that. Henderson’s 3-pointer gave the Gamecocks their major lead at 51-36 midway by the 3rd quarter, and the Cardinals ended up only within less than 8 factors for 42 seconds immediately after that.

Boston experienced 15 points and 10 rebounds in the next 50 %.

“The activity just opened up,” she claimed. “We had been in a position to go on to go the ball.”

ANTHEM ABSENCE

The overall South Carolina staff stayed off the court through the national anthem, preserving with the Gamecocks’ apply all time. Very last season, several players took a knee all through the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

By Lois C