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Gamecocks Set for National Championship Game Sunday
Women's Basketball  . 

Gamecocks Set for National Championship Game Sunday

No. 1/1 South Carolina will face No. 2/2 Iowa in the NCAA National Championship game on Sun., April 7, at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland. The game will tipoff at 3 p.m. on ABC.

The Iowa Series
The series between the Gamecocks and Hawkeyes is tied 1-1, but the programs have played just once in the modern era.

Iowa claimed the most recent outing with a 77-73 victory over the Gamecocks in the 2023 NCAA Final Four in Dallas, ending South Carolina’s undefeated season.

Gamecock Notables

  • This is South Carolina’s third appearance in the National Championship game in program history and second in the last three seasons. The Gamecocks won both their previous title games – 2017, 2022.

  • Under Dawn Staley, South Carolina is 16-2 in postseason games with a championship on the line – NCAA Championship 2-0, NCAA Regional Final 6-1, SEC Tournament Championship 8-1.

  • South Carolina is outscoring its opponents in the paint by 20.0 points per game at the NCAA Tournament with a bulk of the damage done in the last two games – +30 vs. Oregon St., +24 vs. NC State.

  • The Gamecocks have held their 10 ranked opponents to just 67.3 points per game this season, including limiting the last two to a 58.5 average.

  • All-America center Kamilla Cardoso has had a stellar NCAA Tournament, becoming the fifth Gamecock to post multiple games of 22 or more points in the same tournament – most recently Aliyah Boston in 2022. Cardoso averages 17.0 points on 68.2 percent shooting at this event.

  • Second-Team All-SEC forward Ashlyn Watkins is the Gamecocks’ top rebounder in the 2024 NCAA Tournament, reeling in 9.8 boards per game, including her 20 boards in the semifinals Friday. It marked just the second time a Gamecock had a 20-rebound game in the NCAA Tournament (Boston 22 vs. North Carolina, Mar. 25, 2022). Watkins has added 7.6 points and 2.6 blocks per game in the tournament as well.

  • Second-Team All-SEC guard Raven Johnson is second in the nation with a 3.1 assist-to-turnover ratio. With five assists against NC State, she moved into fourth place in the program’s single-season assists list. She has had nine turnover-free games this season, including Friday night.

Bench Mob
The quality of South Carolina’s depth ranks among the best in the nation. The Gamecocks’ five-woman bench is second in the nation with an SEC-best 33.8 points per game. The South Carolina bench has out-scored its opponents’ starters 11 times this season, and the Gamecocks’ top scorer in a game has been off the bench 13 times.

The Gamecock bench has outscored its counterparts by 21.9 points per game, including a +18.5 margin in SEC action and a +27.6 edge in the postseason (SEC and NCAA Tournaments). The group has been dominant against ranked opponents, outpacing that group’s bench by 21.6 points per game. Only two opponents have had their bench scoring outpace the Gamecocks’ – by 10 at Duke (Dec. 3), by 5 vs. Georgia (Feb. 18).


Paint Production
South Carolina has long dominated the paint, and this season’s numbers have upheld that tradition. The season kicked off with 70 of the team’s 100 points against #10/10 Notre Dame (Nov. 6) coming in the paint, and a total of 21 games have seen at least half the total points scored in the paint. In their game at Tennessee (Feb. 15), a season-high 72.7 percent of points were in the paint.

With 53.3 percent of their points coming in the paint, the Gamecocks are out-scoring opponents in that space 45.5 to 23.0 (+22.5) for the season, including by +21.8 points per SEC game (46.5-24.8) and by 20.0 points per NCAA Tournament game (40.0-20.0). They are shooting 56.4 percent in the paint compared to opponents’ 38.9 percent.

Last season, South Carolina averaged 43.8 points in the paint to account for 54.6 percent of its offense.

Ashlyn SWatkins
While Ashlyn Watkins’ athleticism has never been in question – she became the first Gamecock to dunk in a game last season at Clemson and the first to do it at Colonial Life Arena this season against Kentucky – the sophomore has brought all sides of her game together to earned a spot on the All-SEC Second Team this season.

Watkins’ season averages include 9.4 points and 7.4 rebounds, which rank 12th in the SEC. Defensively, the sophomore forward is 18th in the nation with 2.4 blocks per game, and her 90 blocks this year are third in program history, matching Aliyah Boston (2021-22) and A’ja Wilson (2016-17).  According to Her Hoop Stats, she is second in the nation (among players averaging at least 15 minutes played) in player defensive rating (67.2).

In SEC action, Watkins was ninth in rebounding at 7.5 per game and third in blocks per league game at 2.1.

Watkins has eight double-doubles and at least three blocks in 17 games, including a career-high six blocks against Presbyterian (Dec. 16) and at Florida (Jan. 4).

Her poise late at #24/24 North Carolina (Nov. 30) helped deliver the win with her six fourth-quarter points capped by a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left.

Watkins made her first career start at Auburn (Feb. 1) and truly illustrated how far she has come, turning in 14 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks and three steals in 31 minutes of action, including six rebounds and two steals in the first quarter as the Gamecock offense struggled.

Against #11/9 UConn (Feb. 11), Watkins stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, nine rebounds, three blocks, three assists and two steals.

In the NCAA Tournament, she is the Gamecocks’ top rebounder at 9.8 boards per game to go with 7.6 points and 2.6 blocks per game.