Gamecocks' 1 vs. 2 Matchup Set for ABC Sunday
COLUMBIA, S.C. –No. 1/1 South Carolina women’s basketball is on the West Coast for an early season road test against No. 2/2 Stanford on Sunday. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. ET/noon PT on ABC.
Sunday’s game is the second-straight 1 vs. 2 matchup in the series as the two teams hold the same positions they did in last season’s meeting in Columbia. The higher-ranked team has won the previous eight games of this series.
Head coach Dawn Staley has never been shy about challenging her team, especially early in the season. This season marks the second time in the last three campaigns that the Gamecocks have faced two ranked teams in their first four outings (2020-21).
South Carolina’s rebounding is among the best in the nation year after year, especially on the offensive end. The Gamecocks are third in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, grabbing 50.5 percent of their own missed shots. South Carolina averages 20.3 second-chance points per game on 16.7 offensive rebounds per outing.
Reigning National Player of the Year Aliyah Boston has drawn a crowd in the paint this season but still averages a double-double (13.0 ppg/10.0 rpg). As requested by her coach, she has improved her passing as well, handing out 2.0 assists per game.
Senior guard Zia Cooke has said she felt her best season was ahead of her, and early returns seem to agree with the prediction. Shooting 50.0 percent from 3-point range (9-of-18), she is eighth in the SEC with 16.7 points per game.
Unsung hero no more, senior guard Brea Beal was named to the watch lists for the Naismith Trophy and the Wooden Award in the preseason. In her fourth season, her complete game has been on display, ranking third in the SEC in blocks (2.0), coming in second in on the team in rebounding (6.7) and assists (3.0) and netting 6.7 points per game. And, her primary defensive assignment is scoring 4.9 points per game fewer than her average.
The Stanford Series
The Gamecocks and Cardinal are developing a rich history beyond the connection between their two head coaches. While Stanford owned the series early to hold a 6-2 advantage all-time, the Gamecocks have won two of the last three meetings, including the most recent regular-season matchup – a 65-61 South Carolina win on Dec. 21 in Columbia.
The higher-ranked team has won every meeting in the series. South Carolina’s last trip to Palo Alto was on Nov. 26, 2010.
Against ranked opponents, South Carolina is 100-66 (.602) in the Dawn Staley era (beginning 2008-09), and even that mark is skewed by the early seasons of her tenure.
Since the start of the 2014-15 campaign, the Gamecocks are 85-27 (.759) against ranked teams, including a 37-6 mark since the start of the 2019-20 season.
Senior Aliyah Boston has thrived in her 43 career games against ranked opponents, averaging 15.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.9 blocks while shooting 53.5 percent. Senior Zia Cooke’s offense is not far behind with her 13.8 points per game in those 43 outings.
Forward Aliyah Boston opened her senior season with exactly what sealed her unanimous National Player of the Year junior campaign – double-doubles. With one in each of her first two games, she is 12th in the nation in that category while also ranking 12th in field goal percentage (.714).
From her college debut triple-double in November 2019 to her sweep of the national player of the year awards – including Naismith Defensive Player of the Year – the 6-foot-5 St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., native has been among the best in college women’s basketball throughout her career.
Boston is a three-time All-American, three-time winner of the Lisa Leslie Award and three-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year. She added SEC Player of the Year honors in 2022 as well.
Averaging a double-double for her career (14.4 ppg/11.1 rpg), Boston leads all active NCAA players, all divisions, with 62 career double-doubles and 1,159 career rebounds. Her 260 career blocked shots are third among all active players.
In 43 career games against ranked opponents, her averages rise to 15.2 ppg and 12.3 rpg.
South Carolina annually ranks among the best shot blocking teams in the country and leads the way again this season at 9.7 blocks per game after finishing the 2021-22 season with an NCAA-best 7.4, including 7.3 in SEC play.
Early this season an unexpected shot blocker leads the way with guard Brea Beal ranking third in the SEC with 2.0 blocks per game. Freshman Ashlyn Watkins is next in line at 1.3 per contest.