No. 1 South Carolina opened the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament with a dominant 79-21 victory over Howard at the Colonial Life Arena, Friday. The Gamecocks suffocated the Bison from the opening tip, limiting Howard 1 of 26 shooting in the first half and 15% overall. USC outscored Howard 22-2 in each of the first two quarters, resulting in a 44-4 halftime lead. South Carolina, the nation’s best defensive team by opponent field goal percentage, set a new NCAA Tournament record for fewest points surrendered in a half of 1st or 2nd round games (previous low was eight in the first half by Prairie View vs. Baylor in 2011). The Gamecocks have now won all ten of its first-round NCAA Tournament games under Dawn Staley.
USC was led by Aliyah Boston, who registered here 25th consecutive double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. The Gamecocks starters played sparingly in the second half, with Boston scoring all of her points in the first twenty minutes of play and grabbing here 10th rebound early in the third quarter. Thirteen different Gamecocks scored in the rout.
South Carolina (30-2) sat atop the Associated Press poll heading into the season and entered the tournament as the AP’s no. 1 team, becoming the first team to pull off the feat since UConn in the 2017-18 season. The Gamecocks will next take the floor against 8th-seeded Miami for a second round game at a time to be determined, Sunday.