Top-ranked South Carolina cruises past UConn to win Battle 4 Atlantis
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Top-ranked South Carolina leaves paradise with a crowning achievement. The Gamecocks defeat second-ranked UCONN in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship game, 73-57.
Three Gamecocks score in double figures. Destanni Henderson (15), Zia Cooke (17), and Aliyah Boston (22) combine to score 54 points.
Carolina dominated two critical phases of the game to stifle UCONN in the Bahamas. The Gamecocks controlled the glass to secure second chance opportunities and limited its turnovers in the second half.
Carolina tried to grab early control on Paradise Island. Gamecock stars Zia Cooke and Aliyah Boston each made threes to grab the early 6-0 advantage. UCONN came up empty on its first five trips down the floor, including two turnovers.
But after the first couple of minutes, the Huskies ramped up their defensive pressure to spark their offense. The Huskies connected on their next seven shots from the field. And they went on a 20-2 run to lead by ten with under four to play in the first quarter.
UCONN scored eleven of its first 15 points on the fastbreak.
Carolina was able to close out the first quarter on another 6-0 to steal momentum to enter the second quarter. Still, Huskies carried a six-point lead.
Turnovers plagued Carolina in the first half. Gamecocks giving the ball away eleven times, leading to 13 Husky points off turnovers.
When Carolina protected the rock, it dissected the Huskies’ defense. The Gamecocks nearly erased a 13-point deficit in the second quarter. Cooke and Boston the two dominant forces that were driving Carolina’s run back in it. The two combined for 22 of Carolina’s 31 points in the first 20 minutes.
The Gamecocks returned after the break playing exceptional basketball. Carolina did not commit a single turnover the entire third quarter. It resulted in a 13-4 run powered by, who else, Boston and Cooke. Carolina would jump in front 46-40 with 6:44 to play in the frame.
By the end of the quarter, locked at 54, Destiny Littleton drops a contested three from the corner to lift the Gamecocks to a 57-54 lead.
Carolina was crashing the glass and winning the battle of the boards. The Gamecocks racked up 14 offensive rebounds and 17 second-chance points through the first three quarters.
Gamecocks were in complete control by the time the final frame rolled around. UCONN, unable to find any path to the basket, shot a mere 14% from the field in the first six minutes in the fourth quarter.
Carolina’s suffocating defense opened opportunities to deliver daggers on the other end. Littleton proved to be clutch off the bench, as she connected for three to lift the Gamecocks to a nine-point lead with/ 4:38 remaining.
South Carolina outscored UCONN 16-3 in the fourth quarter, closing the game on a 10-0 run.
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