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South Carolina celebrates winning third women’s basketball national championship

The victorious South Carolina women’s basketball team returned home to celebrate with fans after defeating Iowa 87-75 to win a third national championship.

The Gamecocks received a raucous ovation at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina, on Monday after completing a perfect 38-0 season.

South Carolina is led by head coach Dawn Staley, who has been in the position since 2008 and helped turn the side into a college basketball powerhouse – all three of the Gamecocks’ national titles (2017, 2022, 2024) have come during Staley’s tenure.

“They held each other accountable, they encouraged each other,” Staley said of her squad at the celebration.

“All of them, each and every one of them took their turn in making an impact on any given night for our team to be successful, and they did it in a way where they lifted up each other. And that is truly, truly an organic chemistry that you couldn’t pay real money to produce.

South Carolina fans cheer during the championship celebration. - Sean Rayford/Getty Images
South Carolina fans cheer during the championship celebration. - Sean Rayford/Getty Images

“This team would not be denied this year. I am incredibly proud of them,” she added.

South Carolina’s win against Iowa allowed the Gamecocks to avenge last year’s defeat in the Final Four against the Hawkeyes, denying college superstar Caitlin Clark a fairytale ending to her college career.

Staley revealed details of the pre-game conversations that the players and coaches had on Sunday.

“[The players are] saying, ‘We’re going to do this to [Iowa]. We’re going to do that to them.’ Meanwhile, the coaches are in the locker room and we’re like, ‘Either we’re going to get blown out, or we’re going to blow them out,’” she said.

“And I would say for the first three minutes of the game, we got blown out. But the 37 other minutes…” Staley said before trailing off, and the crowd roared.

The South Carolina squad had billed the 2024 tournament as a “revenge tour,” but the team already seems to have its eyes on next season.

“The revenge tour is over,” said sophomore guard Raven Johnson, who defensively helped tamper down Clark on Sunday. “Now, it’s time for the repeat tour!”

Staley seemed to agree, hoping to make the celebration an “annual” event.

Staley and the Gamecocks receive the trophy on court for the third time in program history. - Thien-An Truong/ISI Photos/Getty Images
Staley and the Gamecocks receive the trophy on court for the third time in program history. - Thien-An Truong/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The college crowd was full of adoration for their triumphant team but perhaps the biggest cheer of the whole event came when Staley confirmed that class was closed for the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, Iowa’s athletics department announced on Monday that it will hold an end-of-season celebration to honor the runner-up Hawkeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. That celebration will be held Wednesday and the team, including Clark, will be in attendance.

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