The UCLA Lady Bruins fell to the South Carolina Gamecocks 59-43 in Saturday’s Sweet 16 matchup. The Gamecocks came into the game the number one overall ranked team in the country, and the top seed in the tournament. South Carolina was unbeaten on the season, coming into the matchup 34-0, including a nine-point victory over UCLA back in November. The Bruins are actually only one of two teams this entire season that has kept the Gamecocks to a single-digit victory.
The Gamecocks came into this game completely prepared to use their size to their advantage, and credit UCLA they came into this with a gameplan to try and stop them. They packed the lane as much as possible, hoping to force the Gamecocks to shoot from three. There was a two-prong issue to this strategy though. One, even when they missed from deep, the Gamecocks had a massive rebounding lead. Secondly, they made more than enough threes and long twos to keep the Bruin’s defense honest.
Both teams struggled to score out of the gate, finishing the first half 15-25 in favor of the Gamecocks. The game was closer than it appeared going into halftime, as the Bruins were still fighting to stay within striking range. The Bruins struggled to find their offensive rhythm though, shooting 29 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from three-point range. Charisma Osbourne was the only Bruin to score in double digits with 14 points in 32 minutes. The Bruins played good first-half defense, at least enough to hold the Gamecocks to 25. The Gamecocks had three players score in double digits, and senior leader Aliyah Boston finished the game with 8 points and 14 rebounds.
In the second half, the Gamecocks came out with a sizable rebounding advantage and finished the game ahead 15-8 in second-chance points. The Gamecocks were also just too tall in the front court, essentially getting to the hoop without contest for easy layups and put-back twos. Bree Hall came in off the bench and made a pair of threes and a long two.
The Gamecocks go on to face Maryland in a 1 vs 2 matchup in the Elite 8. Legendary coach Dawn Staley looks to lead the Gamecocks to back-to-back national championships and stay undefeated on the season.