South Carolina undefeated streak ends at the hands of Iowa 77- 73
The women's Final Four ended with a huge attendance for the Gamecocks vs Iowa game. There were many storylines prior to the game. How would Coach Dawn Staley handle the AK-47 snipper in Caitlin Clark? Would she play more of a Box and 1 defense of Clark or would she play straight up man. On the other side of the fence, Iowa's main concern with stopping Aliyah Boston and the scrappy offense that put South Carolina back in the Final Four. How could they contain the inside presence of SC and how could they slow down the tempo when need be?
People, get your popcorn out, because the intensity of this game with everything on the line, was must see TV. Maybe it was the nerves, but South Carolina had four turnovers in the first three minutes of the game, which resulted in four fastbreak points for Iowa. Things turned sour for Carolina heading into the second quarter. Not only they were down 22-13, but Boston had to sit on the bench with her second foul.
With Boston on the bench, SC had to find some type of offense flow before the game got out of hand. The Gamecocks got back into the game with their bigs holding down the fort. Zia Cooke and Kamilla Cardoso combined for eight points down the stretch to put their team within striking distance. On top of that, they put so much pressure on Iowa's defense in transition that Clark ended up with her second foul, which made her a bit passive the rest of the quarter. SC cut the lead to one at the end of break, 38-37. Key factor in the first half for the Gamecocks was the second chance opportunities and getting the ball inside, which they need more of in the second half.
Just like the first half, Iowa punched SC right in the nose with a blurry 9-0 run. Boston was inserted right back in the game and within three minutes, she was hit with her third foul. Coach Staley decided to keep Boston in the game for a bit and gave Boston a rest with two minutes left in the third. Once again, SC's bigs went to work on the glass and got within four at the end of the third. Things got interesting late, down by two with 47 ticks left, Carolina needed a stop. SC forced Clark to shoot an unbalanced shot but was fouled. She hit both free throws, which handed the Gamecocks their first loss of the season.