November 22, 2022
How South Carolina pulled out the win over Stanford
Gamecocks celebrate win in first Maples game in 12 years
STANFORD, Calif. — In November 2010, the University of South Carolina made the trip from Columbia, S.C., to Maples Pavilion in sunny Palo Alto to battle Stanford University. That day nearly 12 years ago ended in a 70 – 32 Stanford domination and Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer giving South Carolina’s locker room a pep talk.
But this Sunday, 12 years later, looked a bit different. Armed with two Championships since 2010, South Carolina beat Stanford, 76-71, in an overtime win in a sold-out Maples Pavilion.
And although it didn’t end in Stanford domination, for much of the game, Stanford controlled the marquee matchup, staying in the lead from minutes 2-through-43. After a rocky start with missed moments at the rim, Stanford was dominant on both ends, keeping a solid 10-point lead.
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The Gamecocks continued to look sleepy throughout the first half, making little effort to make up lost ground as Stanford played sloppily in the second quarter. But what kept Stanford so elite against an offensively dangerous South Carolina was their defense.
With a mix of Cameron Brink, Ashten Prechtel and Kiki Iriafen, Aliyah Boston was locked down for the majority of the game, with only six points in the first three quarters. Boston and Brink both battled fouling jeopardy but proved to be the stars of the show.
Brink was dominant on both ends, inside and out, proving herself to be a generational talent.
“I think [Brink] is developing into something pretty special,” South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley said postgame. “The threes elevate her game… Her ability to force you to foul that compounds the mistake. She got Aliyah leave on the bench early on in the first half, that’s what we wanted to do.”
Both she and Boston spent much of the second on the bench after receiving their second fouls, and when she was off the court and Boston was on, were the moments where Boston looked like herself on the floor.
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Stanford executed a terrific scout with a double time on Boston at all times, forcing the ball into other hands and outrebounding South Carolina.
“They sent a double, and they were just very aggressive,” Boston told media after the game. “But my teammates, they stepped up and they were hitting shots and they were trying attacking and finding the holes in their defense.”
As the game progressed, particularly in the fourth quarter, South Carolina pulled themselves together, and Stanford began to crumble. Shots began to fall for the Gamecocks, particularly a last-minute 3-pointer from Brea Beal nearly tying the game and a final Boston jumper nearly identical to her tearful miss in the 2021 Final Four that ended their season to Stanford.
Solid performances from Zia Cooke, Bree Hall and Laeticia Amihere also kept the Gamecocks in the game.
In Stanford’s final possession, a sloppy inbound by Haley Jones ended regulation triggering overtime. After another sloppy inbound that caused a turnover and a miss-called timeout in the final minute of overtime, the game was South Carolina’s by a slim 74-71.
Stanford’s late-game loss looked eerily similar to the teams’ last matchup in December 2021 when the Cardinal blew a 17-point lead. However, in that game, it was apparent their post couldn’t keep up with Boston and the rest of the Gamecocks, whereas Brink showed us this game that’s far from the truth.
It’s clear that South Carolina knows how to finish better than just about anyone. They’re track record shows perseverance and skill until the final whistle, particularly led by Coach Staley and Boston.
And although the Cardinal lost, you could barely tell via fans or even players. The sold-out crowd was locked in, Jones even calling it the loudest game she’s ever played in Maples.
“I think the energy in Maples today was electric, and I don’t think I’ve had a game in here like that since maybe the Olympic game, but I still think it was louder today,” Jones said.
And this wasn’t just another “heavy weight” fight, as Coach VanDerveer called it, it was a significant moment for women’s basketball more holistically.
As Coach Staley put it, matchups like this have been happening for a long time, but now media is taking notice.
“Television is starting to pick up on it because we’ve been doing this for quite some time,” Staley said the day before the matchup. “We’re playing on ABC tomorrow up against football, pro football, probably men’s collegiate basketball, NFL. Obviously, there’s a space for it or else it would not be televised or wouldn’t be televised nationally.”
And both teams were extremely aware of this national attention by using the time to bring light to Brittney Griner’s situation, with coaches wearing matching shirts, having letter writing stations, and decals on jerseys.
Both the storyline of South Carolina’s rise over the last 12 years and the national broadcast media taking note illustrates the game’s growth and its potential.
And instead of Coach VanDerveer addressing South Carolina’s locker room this year, instead, Coach Staley addressed a captive Stanford fanbase postgame, answering questions and talking about the teams and game.
For South Carolina, 12 years has been a long time.