Gamecocks Defeat the Bulldogs in Route to First National Championship
The NCAA women’s college basketball season ended Sunday and for the first time since 2012 the last team standing wasn’t the UConn Huskies, it was the South Carolina Gamecocks led by head coach Dawn Staley. The Gamecocks defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs 67-55, as South Carolina captured the team’s first national championship in program history.
Juniors Aj’a Wilson and Allisha Gray both registered double doubles in the game, combining for 20 rebounds and 41 points. The duo also tallied seven of South Carolina’s eight blocks on defense. The Gamecocks held the Bulldogs to just 35 percent shooting from the floor and registered a 40-27 advantage in rebounds. Junior Victoria Vivians led Mississippi State in scoring but shot just 4-of-16 (25 percent) from the field and had five turnovers.
For Dawn Staley, who has many basketball accolades as a player, she adds her first championship in her ninth season as South Carolina’s head coach. She joins Carolyn Peck (Purdue 1999) as the second African-American female head coach to lead a Division I women’s basketball team to a title. Staley had previously guided the Gamecocks to the Final Four in 2015 and in the early 90’s as a player at the University of Virginia, she had been there three consecutive times.
South Carolina finished the 2017 season with a school record 34 wins and tallied just five losses. The Gamecocks have won nearly 73 percent of their games under Dawn Staley (222-81).