COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley said as long as her defense can keep playing this good, her team’s bad shooting can fix itself, later in the NCAA Tournament.
The top-seeded Gamecocks (31-2) held a second opponent without a field goal in the second quarter to beat Miami 49-33 on Sunday in the second round of the tournament.
It was ugly shooting all around. South Carolina shot just 30% and the Hurricanes (21-13) shot just 24% for the game.
But Staley, making her eighth Sweet 16 appearance in a row, said that defense is a nice security blanket for a team that has shot 37% or worse four of its past five games. The 54 points allowed in the first two rounds of the women’s NCAAs is 17 fewer than any other team has allowed in its first two games.
”There’s a nastiness to us on that side of the basketball. It wins basketball games for us,” Staley said.
Aliyah Boston scored 10 points and 16 rebounds. Her 26th double-double in a row seemed in doubt until she was fouled with 1:19 left as Miami tried to extend the game. The All-American hit both free throws. Boston was just 4-of-15 from the field, missing both her 3-pointers and made just two of six free throws.
”I think I was just moving a little too fast,” Boston said.
Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi of Miami led all scorers with 15 points. The 6-foot-4 forward only shot 3-pointers, going 5-of-11. The rest of the team combined for just six more field goals.
Hurricanes coach Katie Meier said the only way she saw to beat South Carolina was to slow down Boston, show as much toughness and fight as the Gamecocks and shoot well over the zone. The shooting wasn’t there. It was their worst performance of the season.
”We were trying to match them punch for punch. Obviously we didn’t,” Meier said. ”If you didn’t understand the grit and the character of our team, I think we proved that today.”
As long as South Carolina keeps playing amazing defense and keeps hitting the boards – they had 19 offensive rebounds to just six for Miami- Staley is convinced the other problems will work themselves out.
”I think you just have to continue to play good basketball – just take good shots. Basketball has a way of just repaying you for doing it the right way and being disciplined,” she said.
- Fresh off setting the NCAA Tournament record for fewest points allowed in the first round versus Howard, the Gamecock defense added to the record book by shattering the record for fewest points allowed in the first two games of a tournament run. The previous low was 71, South Carolina allowed 54 to the Bison and Hurricanes over the weekend.
- South Carolina held Miami without a field goal in the second quarter, the Hurricanes relied only on three free throws while the Gamecocks added 10 points to their lead with four players scoring three or more points. It is the seventh time in program history where the Gamecocks held an opponent without a field goal for a quarter.
- The Hurricanes had five field goals made in total through the first three quarters, before both teams broke out with 18 points apiece in the fourth. Miami’s starting five scored just 12 points combined for the game.
- Despite pulling down 19 total offensive rebounds, it wasn’t until 5:13 to play in the game that the Gamecocks were able to convert those boards into second-chance points. Kamilla Cardoso hit it after collecting her own miss, it was at that point the team’s 14th offensive rebound of the game. South Carolina scored six more points off second chances from that moment on to hold off the Hurricanes.
- After missing most of the first-round win over Howard, Cardoso returned and was an injection of energy on both ends of the floor. The post had three three-point plays converted, including two mid-way through the fourth quarter that stifled a Hurricanes comeback effort. Her 11 points and four blocks both led the team and she also added eight rebounds.
- Another full-team defensive effort from Miami held Aliyah Boston to a season-low field goal percentage (26.7), but the junior would not be denied her nation-leading 26th-consecutive double-double. Boston had her rebounds well in hand, finishing with 16, but needed to make both free throws with 1:19 to play in the fourth quarter to reach 10 points. She did just that.
- In its final game at Colonial Life Arena, the Gamecocks locked up a perfect 16-0 record in home games with the win. It is the fourth flawless season at home dating back to 2002-03 (2013-14, 2014-15, 2019-20).
- Sunday was just the third meeting all-time between South Carolina and Miami. The Gamecocks are now 3-0, with the previous meeting coming back in 1993.