Elite Eight Awaits Monday Night
GREENVILLE, S.C. – No. 1/1 South Carolina faces another repeat opponent in the NCAA Elite Eight, taking on No. 7/7 Maryland on Mon., March 27, at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
The Maryland Series
While this series began in the 1997-98 season, it became a regular matchup at the start of the 2017-18 campaign. The Gamecocks lead the overall series 4-2.
In the last five meetings, all of which have been top-15 matchups, South Carolina is 4-1, including three wins in College Park.
In the second game of this season for both teams, South Carolina claimed an 81-56 victory on Nov. 11 in College Park. The Gamecocks used a 30-17 third quarter that saw them shoot 56.3 percent to Maryland’s 28.6 percent to open up a six-point halftime lead. The surge included a 14-4 run over the period’s final 3:11, including a combined eight points from Kamilla Cardoso.
Against ranked teams, South Carolina is 108-66 (.621) 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 92-27 (.773) against ranked teams, including a 44-6 mark (.880) since the start of the 2019-20 season.
Senior Aliyah Boston has thrived in her 50 career games against ranked opponents, averaging 15.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks while shooting 53.4 percent. Senior Zia Cooke’s offense is not far behind with her 13.9 points per game in those 50 outings, including a career-best 14.9 average in this season’s eight games.
This season, South Carolina is 8-0 against ranked teams, including wins over four teams currently in the top 10. The Gamecocks claimed their eight wins by an average of 20.0 points with a +18.1 rebounding margin. Boston’s 15.0 points and 11.9 rebounds per game lead the team, and she has added 2.0 blocks and 2.3 assists per game as well. Cooke is just behind at 14.9 points per game, tying for team-high honors with 2.4 assists per game.
South Carolina’s eight wins over ranked opponents are the third most in the nation this season, and its three true road wins over ranked opponents are second.
The Gamecocks also have two wins over Tennessee, which moved into the AP Poll on March 13, and three wins against teams receiving votes in at least one of this week’s polls – Ole Miss (W, 64-57 ot; W, 80-51) and South Dakota State (W, 62-44).
- South Carolina has led the nation in scoring defense all season, and the NCAA Tournament has been no exception. The Gamecock defense is allowing tournament lows in points per game (42.7) and field goal percentage (.282).
Thanks to their rock solid defense, the Gamecocks have won games at every scoring level this season, claiming six wins when held under 70 points, 10 when scoring in the 70s, 12 when finishing in the 80s and seven when scoring 90 or more.
The Gamecock bench continues to thrive in the postseason, scoring 33.2 points per game to account for 43.8 percent of the total offense. Over the last six games, three Gamecocks have come off the bench to lead or tie for the lead in scoring at least once.
South Carolina’s SEC-best 16.7 assists per game includes 19.3 per postseason game. Over their last six outings, the Gamecocks have assisted on 68.2 percent of their made field goals.
Over the last four seasons, South Carolina is 44-6 against ranked opponents, including a 15-4 mark against top-10 foes.
Senior forward Aliyah Boston is averaging a double-double in postseason games – 10.8 ppg, 10.3 rpg. Her rebounding average goes up to 11.3 in NCAA Tournament action, which ranks her 11th in the field.
Senior Brea Beal continues to elevate her game in the postseason, lifting her averages over the last six outings to 7.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists. She is shooting 51.4 percent from the field, including 47.1 percent from 3-point range (8-of-18) over that stretch.
Junior Kamilla Cardoso scored in double figures on Saturday, marking her fourth postseason game hitting that mark. She is shooting a team-best 58.8 percent from the field in the postseason.
- Brea Beal, Aliyah Boston and Zia Cooke were named to the All-Tournament Team with Boston earning Regional Most Outstanding Player.
South Carolina annually ranks among the best shot blocking teams in the country and leads the way again this season at 9.0 blocks per game..
This season, the Gamecocks have blocked 20.5 percent of their opponents’ 2-point attempts, which also leads the country. They have posted double-digit blocks 13 times, led by 16 against Coastal Carolina (Dec. 21).
Three Gamecocks are among the SEC’s top 15 – Aliyah Boston (3rd, 2.0), Kamilla Cardoso (4th, 2.0) and Laeticia Amihere (12th, 1.1). Boston’s average includes an SEC-best 2.3 in league play.v
For the Record
As a team, South Carolina has already set several records this season, including their current 41-game win streak. The Gamecocks have already set a new SEC record for blocked shots in a season (315), which is the second-most in NCAA history (324 by UConn in 2014). South Carolina actually owns the top four single-season block performances in SEC history.
Several program rebounding records have reset this season – +21.3 rebounding margin in SEC games, 49.5 rebounds per SEC game and single-game marks for rebounds (74), rebounding margin (+57), offensive rebounds (32) and defensive rebounds (42) against Arkansas on Jan. 22, 2023. The 2022-23 season rebounding numbers so far are among the top three in program history – 1,733 total rebounds (3rd), 628 offensive rebounds (2nd), 1,105 defensive rebounds (2nd). The Gamecocks’ total rebound number ranks fifth in SEC history.
Offensively, the Gamecocks +26.4 scoring margin in SEC games is a new program record.
Individually, Aliyah Boston became the program record holder with 1,473 rebounds (4th in the SEC, 16th in NCAA), 511 offensive rebounds, 962 defensive rebounds, 81 double-doubles (2nd in the SEC; 8th in NCAA) and 136 consecutive games started. Her 327 career blocked shots are second in program history and seventh in the SEC.
Boston holds program records in SEC games with 729 rebounds, 11.4 rebounds per game, 244 offensive rebounds, 485 defensive rebounds, 41 double-doubles and 165 blocks.
Zia Cooke’s 815 field goal attempts in SEC games are a Gamecock record. Her 915 career points in SEC games trail only A’ja Wilson in program history.
Victaria Saxton’s career 164 games played and 78 career SEC games player are both South Carolina records. She is fifth in program history in career blocks (192).