It’s tough to call Dawn Staley’s Gamecocks a perennial power – they made their first ever Final Four only eight years ago.
But the undefeated, undisputed No. 1 overall seed, the NCAA defending champs are in their third consecutive Final Four with the former UVA star’s team, riding a 42-game win streak.
“I think what’s attractive about our program is I think we’re just authentic,” said South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley. “Whether you like us or not, you can respect where we’re coming from. I know the parents of the players or prospects that I recruit, that we recruit, they know that what we’re telling them holds true.”
The Gamecocks will seek a third program title with a smothering defense and waves of talent, with three-time All American 6′5″ senior Aliyah Boston leading the way.
“Not a lot of teams can say that they’re able to do this and so for us to be able to do this,” Boston said. “It feels really good and it’s such a blessing that we won’t ever take for granted.”
They’ll be squaring off against an Iowa squad that sports superstar Caitlin Clark. She’ll be coming off of the first ever 40-point triple double with 41 points, 10 boards and 12 assists.
It’s the program’s first Final Four since 1993.
“This is everything you kind of dream of since you were a little kid,” Clark said. “My mom texted me last night, and she’s like I feel like I was kind of stuck in your dream that you wanted to do when you were seven years old. So it’s pretty special, and I’m just trying to enjoy every single second of it.”
And the Hokies’ opponent is LSU — a three seed that’s back in the Final Four for the first time in 15 years.
They are led by second year coach Kim Mulkey who led Baylor to three national titles and a stunning 32-2 record.
“I didn’t put parameters on the team, I didn’t say anything except at the press conferences,” Mulkey said. “I wanna put a championship banner up there someday now we get to put another Final Four.”
The Tigers leading scoree is Angel Reese, an All-American sophomore transfer from Maryland who quickly found a home in bayou country.
“I think it just started when I got here in July, I had a plan just for me and then back on within the team, I mean, they had a plan for the team,” Reese said.