Top-ranked South Carolina dominates on defense to defeat No. 2 UConn

South Carolina women's basketball team celebrates after defeating UConn.
The South Carolina women’s basketball team celebrates after defeating Connecticut in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament on Monday.
(Donald Knowles / Associated Press)

Dawn Staley’s top-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks turned up their defense in the fourth quarter to turn away Connecticut.

Aliyah Boston had 22 points and 15 rebounds, and the Gamecocks held the No. 2 Huskies to three points in the final 10 minutes of a 73-57 victory in the championship game of the inaugural Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.

“Our players are determined. They are resilient,” said Staley, South Carolina’s Hall of Fame coach. “We knew exactly what we had to do, especially on the defensive side of the ball. We had to disrupt. UConn’s a team that’s a well-oiled machine. If you allow them to run their stuff, they’ve made teams look stupid. We had the personnel to disrupt and force them into contested shots.“


Natalie Chou finished with 20 points and IImar’I Thomas added 19 points as No. 20 UCLA stayed unbeaten on the young season with a win over Virginia.

Nov. 21, 2021

This was the 61st meeting between the top two teams in the Associated Press women’s college basketball poll and the sixth time it has happened in November. The No. 1 team holds a 38-23 advantage. The last meeting of the top two teams before Monday was between these same squads back in February. UConn was the No. 2 team and won 63-59 in overtime.

The Gamecocks (6-0) wouldn’t let the Huskies (3-1) beat them in the Bahamas, outscoring them 16-3 in the final quarter, setting off a postgame celebration that had South Carolina swaying alongside a Bahamian dance group.

Trailing 52-50 late in the third quarter, South Carolina cranked up its defense, holding UConn without a field goal for 7 minutes 38 seconds spanning the final two periods. By the time Evina Westbrook made a three-pointer from the wing with 5 minutes left — UConn’s only points of the fourth — the Huskies trailed 63-57.

They got no closer. Destiny Littleton quickly answered with a three on the other end to restore the comfortable margin. She had made a three-pointer late in the third period to give the Gamecocks a 57-54 advantage heading into the fourth.

“Our defense did a superb job for 40 minutes,” Staley said. “You didn’t see the impact in the first half. It’s in the third and fourth quarters when you start feeling what our defense does to teams.”

Paige Bueckers, UConn’s sophomore sensation, had 19 points to lead the Huskies, who had won nine of the 10 previous meetings between the teams.

With the championship game taking place around the same time the poll is released each Monday, the AP decided to delay the poll for a day so it would reflect the outcome — the second time since the poll began in 1976 that it has been delayed.


IImar’I Thomas scored 21 points and Charisma Osborne had 19 points before leaving with an injury in UCLA’s 73-46 win over Cal State Northridge.

Nov. 18, 2021

The only other time also involved UConn. The second-ranked Huskies were playing No. 1 Tennessee on Jan. 16, 1995, in the first meeting of their storied rivalry. The Huskies pulled off the upset victory and moved to No. 1 for the first time in school history.

UConn couldn’t do it again on Monday.

“I liked 30 minutes of what we did; it was great,” said Huskies coach Geno Auriemma, also a Hall of Fame member. “We got tired; our transition game was great in the first half.”