South Carolina came into Friday’s Final Four matchup against Iowa with a national championship resume: 42 straight wins, three-time Naismith Coach of the Year Dawn Staley, 2022 Naismith Player of the Year Aliyah Boston and what’s widely considered the nation’s best defense. What the Gamecocks didn’t have is Caitlin Clark, and that made all the difference.
Clark recorded 41 points, eight assists and six rebounds to lead Iowa to an 77-73 upset over the defending champions. To put Clark’s incredible effort in perspective, the last player to score 30-plus against the Gamecocks’ vaunted defense was UConn’s Paige Bueckers (31) on Feb. 28, 2021. Clark now owns the second-highest scoring game in women’s Final Four history as well, trailing only Sheryl Swoopes 47 points for Texas Tech in the 1993 national championship.
While Clark shined on the sport’s brightest stage, Boston struggled with foul trouble all game, finishing with eight points and 10 rebounds. Zia Cooke and Kamila Cardoso picked up the slack, however. Cooke recorded a team-high 24 points and eight rebounds, while Cardoso registered 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting and 14 rebounds. Cardoso was also a huge reason why South Carolina owned a massive offensive offensive rebounding advantage (26-5), as she grabbed nine of her own.
Iowa will move on to face LSU, which beat Virginia Tech 79-72 in the first Final Four game, in the national championship. That game is slated for Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC. Both teams are looking to win their first ever national title.