CloseMechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, girls’s school basketball, and different school sports activities for espnW. Voepel started masking girls’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — They have been ready a very long time for this right here. It was the final “large” factor the South Carolina girls’s basketball program had but to do. One remaining hurdle in this system’s rise to nationwide prominence. And earlier than a passionately loud full home, the No. 1-ranked Gamecocks did it.
Truly, they did not simply beat UConn for the primary time, they dominated the Huskies, 70-52. UConn has misplaced three video games by at the very least 15 factors in a single season for the primary time since 1992-93, having misplaced to Baylor by 16 factors on Jan. 9 and to Oregon by 18 factors on Feb. three. By this level, it has been fairly effectively established that by the lofty requirements of the 11-time NCAA champions, this season’s Huskies aren’t at their typical stage.
Via Monday’s video games, ESPN Bracketologist Charlie Creme put UConn as a No. 2 seed and at No. 6 general on the S-curve, with little probability to return to the highest line for the reason that Huskies’ solely remaining video games are within the American Athletic Convention, which ranks ninth in convention RPI.
In the meantime, the Gamecocks additional cemented their maintain on a No. 1 seed that might have them within the Greenville Regional, simply over an hour from their campus. The SEC event might be there, too, that means the Gamecocks might make advance to the Last 4 with out leaving the state of South Carolina. The Last 4 is in New Orleans.
Checking this victory off the record mattered to teach Daybreak Staley, whose program gained the 2017 NCAA championship and has turn into the standard-bearer of the SEC, however nonetheless was winless towards UConn. Total, the Huskies had been Eight-Zero towards South Carolina, with seven of these losses on Staley’s slate. The closest she’d come earlier than Monday was a 66-55 loss in 2017. The typical margin of defeat in these seven video games: 21.three factors.
In different phrases, this was cathartic for the Gamecocks and their followers as they put the Huskies on the opposite finish of issues — with the Gamecocks in management from the beginning, developing with key rebounds and making the Huskies look frazzled at occasions.
Was this a must-win for South Carolina? No. However the Gamecocks wanted it from an emotional standpoint, particularly seniors Tyasha Harris and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan. With a lot rightly manufactured from the Gamecocks’ fabulous freshmen — led by Aliyah Boston, who had 13 factors and 12 rebounds Monday — Harris and Herbert Harrigan nonetheless deserve an enormous quantity of credit score for the way this group has progressed forward of schedule, in Staley’s thoughts.
This undoubtedly knocks UConn off the #1 line and doubtless for good. With out anybody of word left to play the Huskies must rely closely on different groups shedding to get again there. SC, Baylor, Oregon, and NC State are your #1 seeds now. The Wolfpack simply barely over Maryland
— Charlie Creme (@CharlieCreme) February 11, 2020
Harris has been the captain of this ship, and she or he led the best way calmly and confidently Monday, ending with group highs of 19 factors and 11 assists, with no turnovers. Herbert Harrigan had 10 factors and 7 rebounds, whereas freshman Zia Cooke, had 15 factors.
Baylor appeared very robust towards UConn, as did Oregon. However make no mistake, South Carolina confirmed — if there have been in some way any doubts — that the Gamecocks are proper there atop the dialog for an NCAA title this yr, too.