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Staley leads South Carolina over UConn for following NCAA title

Staley leads South Carolina over UConn for following NCAA title

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Dawn Staley hoisted the championship trophy high, strutted around the court of rules and regulations with every one other accompanied by stopped for a brief victory dance. She handed over the hardware to South Carolina's student band, at that hour dated headed spine to midcourt for additional merriment.

The Gamecocks hit all the just notes this season, with every one other accompanied by they finished accompanied by a masterpiece.

Staley's team buttoned up on protection with every one other accompanied by dominated on the glass, beating UConn 64-49 on Sunday darkness to extremity the Huskies' undefeated streak inside title games. Destanni Henderson scored a career-high 26 points, Aliyah Boston added 11 points with every one other accompanied by 16 rebounds, with every one other accompanied by the Gamecocks handed Geno Auriemma's Huskies their earliest mislaying inside 12 NCAA title games.

"We played every one ownership exist fond of it was our last possession," said Staley, the earliest Black men's or women's bus accompanied by set of two Division I titles. "They were determined to exist champions today."

A year ago, South Carolina lost inside the Final Four when Boston missed a layup earlier to the buzzer.

"Honestly, I've been intelligent concerning this since last season. Everyone had a painting of me crying," said Boston, who was the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. "Today, we're national champions with every one other accompanied by I'm inside tears."

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With Staley calling the shots inside a Louis Vuitton letterman jacket, South Carolina took UConn to educational organization on the boards with every one other accompanied by capped a wire-to-wire sprint while the No. 1 team inside the country inside The Associated Press poll. The Gamecocks too won the championship inside 2017 accompanied by A'ja Wilson leading the way.

This hour dated it was Boston — the AP Player of the Year — with every one other accompanied by her fellow South Carolina pole players who dominated on the game's biggest stage. The Gamecocks outrebounded UConn 49-24, including a 21-6 advantage on insulting boards.

"We knew tonight that if we didn't clasp our own on the boards, that it was going to exist a really bad darkness for us,," Auriemma said. "And that's exactly what happened."

They too clamped down on celestial body Paige Bueckers with every one other accompanied by the Huskies on defense, fair exist fond of they did all time long.

"They deserved it 100%," Auriemma said. "They were the finest team all year."

It was South Carolina's darkness from the start. The Gamecocks (35-2) jumped to an 11-2 lead, grabbing almost every one rebound on both ends of the floor. They led to 22-8 following one quarter a a large amount of to the delight of their fans, who made the trip to Minneapolis to exist small portion of the sellout crowd.

UConn (30-6) trailed by 16 inside the following quarter earlier to Bueckers, a Minnesota native, got going. After having fair one report inside the earliest quarter, she scored nine points inside the following to obtain the Huskies within 35-27 at the half. She finished accompanied by 14.

An 8-2 sprint to begin the third quarter place South Carolina up 43-29 earlier to the Huskies eventually started connecting from behind the arc. UConn missed its earliest eight 3-point attempts until Caroline Ducharme made one from the pinion with every one other accompanied by Evina Westbrook followed accompanied by another to obtain the Huskies within 43-37.

That's while near while they could obtain since of Henderson.

The older retain protected from danger had a three-point amuse oneself to near the third quarter with every one other accompanied by at that hour dated had the team's earliest quartet points inside the fourth to reinstate the double-digit lead. The Huskies couldn't recover.

"My teammates believed inside me on one occasion again. We've been employed so firm since Day 1, with every one other accompanied by it eventually paid off, all my firm work, all my focus," Henderson said. "Me trusting the process. Me trusting God. She fair place me inside a position fair to exist great, with every one other accompanied by today, we national champions."

This was UConn's earliest trip to the championship game since 2016, when the Huskies won the last of quartet unswerving titles. Since then, the team has suffered heartbreaking defeats inside the national semifinals, losing twice inside overtime, earlier to holding off Stanford on Friday night. The Huskies were trying to come first in their 12th title inside the same city they won their earliest one inside 1995.

Auriemma said Saturday that when his team had won every one of its 11 titles, the Huskies entered the game while the better team. They certainly weren't on Sunday.

"We fair didn't have enough," he said. "They were fair excessively good for us."

It had been one of the most challenging seasons of Auriemma's Hall of Fame career. UConn overcame losing eight players for at least set of two games accompanied by wound or illness, including Bueckers, who missed almost trio months accompanied by a left-hand knee wound suffered inside early December. She came spine inside late February nevertheless wasn't at the same flat that earned her AP Player of the Year while a freshman last season.

DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS

The Gamecocks have been stalwarts on protection all time long, ranking third nationally accompanied by 50.5 points allowed per game. They were flat sharper inside the NCAA Tournament, holding opponents to 44.8 points entering Sunday's finale.

Henderson had trio steals, Boston blocked set of two shots with every one other accompanied by South Carolina forced 15 turnovers. The Gamecocks' plus-25 rebounding margin was the following biggest at some time inside a title game.

BIG PICTURE

UConn: The Huskies mislay trio seniors inside Christyn Williams, Westbrook with every one other accompanied by Olivia Nelson-Ododa nevertheless still have a firm category spine led by Bueckers with every one other accompanied by freshman Azzi Fudd. If the Huskies remain healthy, they'll have a good report to contend for following year's title.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks mislay Henderson with every one other accompanied by Victaria Saxton nevertheless have all the talent to repeat while champions.

___

More AP coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness with every one other accompanied by https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball with every one other accompanied by https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Staley leads South Carolina over UConn for following NCAA title

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