South Carolina Tops Iowa, Caitlin Clark for NCAA Title

Gamecocks cap undefeated season with 87-75 victory
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 7, 2024 4:33 PM CDT
South Carolina Tops Iowa, Caitlin Cark for NCAA Title
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark sits on the bench at the game Sunday in Cleveland. South Carolina won 87-75.   (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Dawn Staley and South Carolina completed their perfect season on Sunday, ending Caitlin Clark's historic college career with an 87-75 win over Iowa in the NCAA championship game. With Staley directing a relentless attack from the sideline, the 38-0 Gamecocks became the 10th Division I team to go through a season without a loss. They accomplished the feat after they lost all five starters from last season's team that lost to Clark's squad in the national semifinals. Clark did all she could to lead the Hawkeyes to their first championship, the AP reports. The guard scored 30 points, including a championship-record 18 in the first quarter.

The top career scorer in NCAA Division I history, with 3,951 career points, Clark fell short in two championship games. But she helped draw millions of new fans to the game, inspiring countless young girls and boys, per the AP. South Carolina has won three titles in the past eight years, including two of the past three, to lay claim to being the latest dynasty in women's basketball. Staley became the fifth coach to win three national championships. The Gamecocks, who have won 109 of their last 112 games, became the first team since UConn in 2016 to go undefeated. Tessa Johnson led South Carolina on Sunday with 19 points. Cardoso had 15 points and 17 rebounds.

After the game, Staley referenced last season's loss to Iowa. "We hope we can erase whatever pain they had last year," Staley said of South Carolina's players and fans, per NBC News. She also expressed pride in her team. "You have to let young people be who they are," Staley said. "You have to guide them and navigate them through this world. When young people lock in and have a belief and trust … this is what can happen." (More NCAA women's basketball stories.)

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