No. 1 South Carolina Gets a Statement Win Over No. 2 UConn

The Gamecocks, in contrast, played sharp and turned to their signature defense in the second half, allowing Connecticut to score just 3 points in the fourth quarter against tight man-to-man coverage.

The junior forward Aliyah Boston nearly had a double-double in the first half, and ended the game with 22 points and 15 rebounds — the kind of performance that South Carolina is relying on her to deliver throughout the season.

“It’s time for Aliyah Boston to be the dominant player she is,” Staley said.

The guards Zia Cooke and Destanni Henderson are the other two keys to the South Carolina offense. Cooke had 17 points worth of circus shots, while Henderson’s veteran savvy manifested in speedy transition baskets and a well-balanced stat line of 15 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and 6 steals.

Overall, the team showed its depth — and that it has ample room to grow. If, for example, the Gamecocks can get Kamilla Cardoso, a 6-foot-7 transfer from Syracuse, more involved in the paint, they might have an easy answer for a tough interior defense like Connecticut’s.

This was the first big test of the season for the Huskies. UConn guard Paige Bueckers, the team’s leading scorer, delivered a number of showstopping baskets, and in the first half the Huskies’ ball movement looked nearly transcendent. That rhythm, though, disintegrated in the second half, when only Bueckers had more than one field goal.

Connecticut will have plenty of shooters ready to help, though, once it reduces some of its more basic mistakes. The redshirt senior guard Evina Westbrook was the spark for the Connecticut offense early, and the team’s second leading scorer. With more opportunities, she might be able to lift some of the offensive load off Bueckers.

Azzi Fudd, a highly regarded freshman, barely played Monday after scoring 18 points against the University of South Florida on Sunday, a decision Auriemma attributed to her inability to move within South Carolina’s stifling defense. With more time in college basketball’s big leagues, though, Fudd might become a consistent scoring threat.

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