Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley, Zia Cooke and Aliyah Boston held a press conference, Friday, as South Carolina continues its preparations for a Sweet 16 matchup with 4th-seeded UCLA.
It will be the second meeting between the two teams this season. UCLA held its own in the first game in Columbia, leading into the third quarter before falling to the Gamecocks 73-64 on Nov. 29th.
Just like other teams before them and since, the Bruins packed the lane defensively to mitigate USC’s frontcourt advantage. Staley expects to see more of the same this time, “We’ll probably see the sagging, we’ll probably see the 32 (3-2 zone), maybe they’ll press us a little bit.”
Staley isn’t surprised these clubs are meeting in the postseason and even predicted as much when she spoke with Bruins head coach Cori Close following their game in November. “I felt like they were a really good opponent and an opponent that we’ll probably face again,” Staley said. “I think they’re just really, really well-coached and really intentional about where they like to get their shots from. And they’re really good at what they do on both sides of the basketball, and they rebound extremely well.”
Bruins star Charisma Osborne is coming off one of her best games, scoring 36 points in the Bruins’ second round victory over Oklahoma. Osborne scored 24 points in the first matchup with USC and will be a focus of the Gamecocks defense.
Top-ranked and top-seeded South Carolina (34-0) will square off with UCLA in Greenville at 2 p.m., Saturday.