No. 5 UConn can't hold on to early lead in 81-77 loss to No. 1 South Carolina
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Aliyah Boston scored 23 of her 26 points in the second half, including 14 in the fourth quarter, to help No. 1 South Carolina beat fifth-ranked UConn 81-77 on Sunday.
The Gamecocks (23-0) have won 29 consecutive games since losing to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament title game last year.
They’ve won four of the past five meetings with the Huskies, including a victory in the NCAA championship game last season. That ended UConn’s perfect 11-0 record in title games.
South Carolina used its size again to top the Huskies. The 6-foot-7 Kamilla Cardoso and Boston, the reigning AP Player of the Year, helped the Gamecocks have a 42-30 advantage on the boards, including grabbing 25 offensive rebounds.
Boston finished with 11 rebounds for the 76th double-double of her career. Cardoso added 17 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out.
With her team leading by four in the fourth quarter, Boston took over. She scored the next 12 points for South Carolina, two of those came when UConn coach Geno Auriemma, frustrated with the officiating, got a technical foul for spiking a water bottle onto the court.
Boston hit the two free throws. She then hit a jumper, a three-pointer and another basket to give the Gamecocks a double-digit advantage much to the disappointment of the sellout crowd — the first at the XL Center since 2017.
Despite seeing their starting backcourt foul out, the short-handed Huskies (21-3) wouldn’t go away. They whittled the lead down to 80-77 with 10.8 seconds left on Aubrey Griffin’s three-point play.
Raven Johnson hit the first of two free throws a second later and UConn couldn’t convert to close out the game
Aaliyah Edwards led UConn with 25 points.
UConn got off to a solid start, outscoring South Carolina 25-14 in the opening period. Lou Lopez Senechal capped the strong start, hitting a running three-pointer just before the buzzer.
South Carolina asserted its size in the second quarter with Cardoso scoring 11 points in the period. Her putback with just under 10 seconds left tied the game at 34 heading into the half.
UConn is 8-10 against No. 1 teams all time. ... The Huskies are still missing guard Azzi Fudd (knee), Caroline Ducharme (concussion) as well as Paige Bueckers (knee) and Ice Brady (knee), who are both out for the season. ... Many former UConn players were in the crowd including Sue Bird, Jen Rizzotti, and Napheesa Collier sitting a few rows behind the Huskies bench. ... South Carolina has gone 41-6 against ranked teams since the start of the 2019-20 season. ... The Gamecocks bench outscored UConn 37-0.
South Carolina: visits Auburn on Thursday before a showdown with No. 3 LSU on Feb. 12
UConn: visits Marquette on Wednesday.