Aliyah Boston’s offensive rebounding and Destanni Henderson’s shooting sparked a 3rd-quarter run that propelled South Carolina past Arkansas 90-64 and into the SEC women’s basketball tournament final. Boston finished with 13 points to go with 13 rebounds and Destanni Henderson led the Gamecocks with 21 points, hitting 4 of 9 from the 3-point line.
Arkansas had cut the lead to seven after opening the third quarter on a 19-7 run. But after a timeout, the Gamecocks executed a set play that led to a rare 3-pointer from Boston. That drew an ovation from the partisan Carolina crowd and touched off a 12-0 run to close the quarter.
Legendary coach Pat Riley used to tell his teams, “no rebounds, no rings.” It appears the Gamecocks have that covered as they again dominated the backboards, outrebounding Arkansas 60-33. Twenty-eight of those rebounds came on the offensive end.
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley was confident calling for a perimeter shot from Boston, “I see her make that shot every day in practice. I know she works on it and she’s comfortable with it. I think she’s made only one in a game, but she shoots it in practice and it’s something we’ll do if we can’t get her the ball,” but she quickly added, “I just don’t want her to get too comfortable out there.”
Was Staley concerned when Arkansas made its run? “I told my team in the huddle, I haven’t flinched and neither should you.”
Arkansas head coach Mike Neighbors had a tough choice to make after his team expended its energy to cut the lead to seven. “I knew we were on fumes. Do you try to sub or ride it out? I’ve learned from watching other coaches to ride it out, but they finish quarters and halves better than anyone else I’ve watched. …. and if you’re going to put a lineup out there with Aliyah Boston at the ‘three,’ just give up. They have no holes. They are a complete team. Hardest team I’ve ever coached against.”
The Gamecocks (31-1) will play for the SEC Championship tomorrow at 5 p.m., against the winner of Kentucky-Mississippi State.