Head coach Dawn Staley and Gamecocks players Brea Beal, Aliyah Boston and Kierra Fletcher held a press conference, Sunday, ahead of their Elite Eight matchup against Maryland. For the second consecutive game, South Carolina will be facing a team in a rematch from the regular season.
The Gamecocks handled the Terrapins, 81-56, in College Park, Md., but much has changed since that game took place on November 11th. At the time, Maryland was playing without its star and presumptive WNBA lottery pick, Diamond Miller, who was out with a knee injury. Miller is a do-it-all guard that posted 18 points, five rebounds, four steals and two blocks in Maryland’s runaway Sweet 16 victory over Notre Dame. Maryland is one of the hottest teams in the country, having won ten of its last 11 and beaten its three NCAA Tournament opponents by an average of 21 points/game.
Staley is well aware of what Miller means to the Terps, “I mean, she can score it at any time. She’s a willing passer. She’s a leader. Like she’s a player that can score in bunches and impact the game on both sides of the basketball, so they have someone that can impact it.”
South Carolina (35-0) is coming off one of its best defensive performances of the season, and that’s a feat considering the Gamecocks have held teams 20.6 points below their scoring average on the season. But USC was especially locked into the game plan against UCLA, limiting the Bruins to 29% shooting in a dominant 59-43 victory, Saturday.
Aliyah Boston scored just eight points in the win, but she was relentless defensively and on the boards, grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds. “At this point in Aliyah’s career, she doesn’t care about anything but winning. Seriously, it’s all about winning. She doesn’t care about stats,” Staley said. “She doesn’t care about double-doubles. She just wants to win. I think she wants to go out as winners with her team. Like that is it.”
For Boston and the Gamecocks to go out winners, they’ll need to get past Maryland, Monday. Tipoff from Greenville’s Bon Secours Arena is set for 7 p.m. The winner will advance to the Final Four in Dallas.
Gamecocks Regional Final press conference
Head coach Dawn Staley