Lady Gamecocks advance to title game; UConn doesn’t

uscwhoops-22Propelled by junior forward A’ja Wilson’s double-double and 13 second-half points junior guard Allisha Gray, No. 3/4 South Carolina rallied past No. 6/6 Stanford 62-53 Friday night at American Airlines Center to secure the program’s first berth in the NCAA championship game.

The top-seeded Gamecocks, who faced a double-digit deficit in the first half, improved to 32-4 with the historic victory in the national semifinal round. They advance to the title game to face Mississippi State, which snapped two-time defending national champion Connecticut’s record 111-game winning streak in the other semifinal – 66-64 in overtime. South Carolina swept the two-game season series with the Bulldogs.

South Carolina outscored the Cardinal 21-8 during the 10-minute stretch to build a four-point cushion as the teams headed into the final break. Wilson’s effort on the defensive end and the glass paced the Gamecocks, who held Stanford to just 4-of-17 shooting for the quarter. The junior standout tallied two blocks in the period to go with eight rebounds, three of which came on the offensive end. Carolina junior guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore capped her team’s dominant quarter with five points and a key assist that kept momentum with the Gamecocks, who entered the period facing a nine-point deficit.

Wilson’s determination down low resulted in an impressive stat line, as the junior posted totals of 13 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks. She added four assists and scored nine of her 13 points over the final 20 minutes of the game. Gray finished with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting and fell two boards short of her own double-double after grabbing eight rebounds. Freshman guard Tyasha Harris added 10 points and delivered three free throws down the stretch to help clinch the win for Carolina, which held Stanford to 4-of-14 shooting from beyond the arc.

Both teams shot under 40 percent from the floor, while the Gamecocks held a slight 43-41 advantage on the boards. Carolina kept Stanford off the line, as the Cardinal attempted just five free throw attempts on the night. The Gamecocks finished the contest 13-of-21 from the charity stripe and netted 19 second-chance points.

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

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