In the earliest season meeting of two top-10 teams, it was No. 8 South Carolina that came out on top and held off No. 4 Maryland, 63-54, in Terrapin country on Sunday.
It was the showcase of freshmen that is was made out to be ahead of time with two of the top three ranked classes in the country. South Carolina had another stellar showing from forward Aliyah Boston, who opened her collegiate career with a triple-double that included blocks on opening night.
She had a team-high 14 points and five blocks — all of which came in the first half — with seven rebounds. Boston had eight of the team’s first 10 points and the team made six free throws to exit the first quarter with an 18-15 lead that grew to 34-24 at the half.
Fellow freshman Breanna Beal led with 10 rebounds and chipped in eight points and four assists. Senior Tyasha Harris had 13 points, six rebounds and four assists.
For Maryland, it was 6-foot freshman guard Ashley Owusu with 17 points and seven rebounds. Both were team highs. Senior Kaila Charles had 11 points with five rebounds and three blocks. Freshman Diamond Miller had 10 points with five rebounds and three assists.
South Carolina controlled the boards, 54-38, and took nearly triple the free throws as Maryland. The Gamecocks, who led for every minute, hit 24 of 30 free throws while Maryland made 8 of 12.
Freshmen classes highlight Maryland, South Carolina
It was an opening weekend matchup of two teams poised to take a strong senior and elite group of freshmen on a deep tournament run. Maryland guard Kaila Charles is one of the best in the nation and the team’s freshman class ranks third with Ashley Owusu, Diamond Miller, Faith Masonius and Zoe Young, who is redshirting with an ACL injury.
South Carolina, led by fellow watch list guard Tyasha Harris, has the top recruiting class and its best since A’ja Wilson started her collegiate career. The Gamecocks have the No. 3 and 4 recruits in Aliyah Boston and Zia Cooke as well as the No. 10 and 11 in Laeticia Amihere and Breanna Beal.
Star power, champs fill Maryland arena
The Terps had a strong showing at the WNBA Finals in which the Washington Mystics defeated the Connecticut Sun for their first title.
Mystics guard Kristi Toliver, a Maryland grad, was part of the star power in the house Maryland for a premier November matchup.
Given the Terps success in recent years, and the star power on the court, we may see a similar studded photo within the decade.
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