South Carolina jumps on Texas early and never lets up on its way to the Final Four

The Hemisfair Area champion will face the winner of Stanford and Louisville on Friday with a place within the nationwide championship recreation at the line. The opposite facet of the bracket is already set with No. 1 seed Connecticut going through No. Three seed Arizona.

“I’ve informed (Staley), it kind of feels like after we play them, their protection is all the time on level and rises to the instance,” Schaefer mentioned. “They all the time play extraordinarily, extraordinarily exhausting on that finish. I assumed nowadays they had been impressive. It’s exhausting to win, exhausting to be aggressive … there used to be 3 mins to move within the 3rd quarter and we don’t ranking once more.

“It wasn’t simply that. … They got here out and punched us.”

South Carolina guard Zia Cooke put drive at the Texas protection all night time along with her velocity and skill to knife via defenders. She completed with 16 issues, six rebounds and 3 assists. Victaria Saxton were given free early and contributed 12 issues and 8 rebounds. Destanni Henderson added 12 issues and 7 assists whilst nationwide participant of the yr candidate Aliyah Boston had a quiet 10 issues and 8 rebounds after averaging a double-double all through the common season and postseason.

Boston and the South Carolina protection made existence extraordinarily tricky on 2nd crew all-American Charli Collier of Texas, who completed with simply 4 issues on 2-for-10 taking pictures and 4 rebounds. Audrey Warren led the Longhorns (21-10) with 13 issues and 5 rebounds. Texas by no means discovered any roughly offensive rhythm because it shot simply 23 % (14 for 61) from the sphere and 20 % (Three for 15) from past the arc. Just about each and every shot used to be contested and the Gamecocks (26-Four) recorded 14 blocks, together with 9 from Laeticia Amihere (10 issues, 8 rebounds).

“We had been simply locked in,” Staley mentioned. “We had been a crew that used to be pushed to be the place we’re at the moment. They sought after to visit the Ultimate 4. They need to win a countrywide championship they usually’re going to provide it up on each side of the ball.

“I assumed it used to be a gorgeous excellent defensive efficiency. However I additionally suppose Texas used to be a bit drained. They gave each and every unmarried factor that they had in that Maryland recreation. … We simply by no means allow them to off the hook. That’s the type of method you must take, particularly while you’re taking part in towards a Vic Schaefer crew and the efficiency that that they had two nights in the past.”

South Carolina sprinted out to a 14-2 lead as Texas fell into a snappy hollow for the second one consecutive spherical — Maryland led Nine-Zero ahead of in the long run dropping to the Longhorns in an dissatisfied within the Candy 16. No longer most effective did the Gamecocks get off a snappy get started, however each and every in their first seven baskets got here off layups — together with 4 in a row from Saxton — because the vaunted Texas protection regarded out of types at the internal. A layup ahead of the buzzer from Texas guard Kyra Lambert helped salvage the quarter and minimize the South Carolina result in 18-7.

A midrange jumper and a banked-in runner from Cooke driven the result in 22-Nine, however Texas in spite of everything discovered its footing and started protecting the internal higher. Texas guard Celeste Taylor led an Eight-2 run that minimize the result in 24-17 and it regarded as though the Longhorns had been about to position in combination some other come-from-behind effort. However the sure vibes didn’t remaining lengthy.

“We haven’t began smartly for the previous two video games,” Lambert mentioned. “After the primary quarter, we had been simply seeking to regroup, get it in combination at the defensive finish. Credit score to South Carolina, I imply, they performed a really perfect ballgame, they guarded us like we adore to protect. It simply wasn’t our night time.”

Cooke endured to bury pull-up jumpers and South Carolina went on a 13-2 run highlighted via some other Saxton layup off a laser go from Henderson. A 3-pointer from Warren ahead of time expired made issues glance somewhat extra first rate, however the Gamecocks nonetheless took a 37-22 lead into halftime after a dominant opening 20 mins.

The Longhorns completed yet one more push within the 3rd quarter with a Nine-Zero run to chop the result in 41-31, however Texas by no means were given inside of unmarried digits the remainder of the way in which. Staley’s staff closed the quarter on an 11-Three stretch capped via a fast-break, opposite layup from Cooke that drew gasps from the gang and gave the Gamecocks a 52-34 benefit after 3 quarters.

South Carolina used to be so dominant that it didn’t permit some extent within the fourth quarter, the primary time in NCAA event historical past a crew has long gone scoreless because the ladies’s video games switched to 1 / 4 structure in 2015.

“It’s very surreal for me,” Cooke mentioned. “I used to be in the market and simply staring. I’m truly right here, truly going to the Ultimate 4. However I think like our paintings isn’t accomplished but. I don’t need to get my hopes up too prime as a result of we nonetheless have two video games to move, however I’m able for it.

“We simply performed with our guard up. We knew that Texas used to be a excellent defensive crew. Can’t take any crew evenly. Maryland used to be intended to win that recreation, however they didn’t. Similar for this recreation. We had been intended to win, however it will have went the wrong way. We simply made certain we put our foot at the gasoline, saved our guard up and did what we had to do.”

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