South Carolina Basketball: Aliyah Boston and the Gamecocks Dominate LSU

South Carolina basketball star Brea Beal was taken in the first round of the 2023 WNBA Draft. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina basketball star Brea Beal was taken in the first round of the 2023 WNBA Draft. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports /
South Carolina Basketball
South Carolina basketball stars Brea Beal and Aliyah Boston dominated the LSU Tigers. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports /

In the first top-3 matchup of SEC teams since the ‘90s, Dawn Staley’s South Carolina basketball team took on Kim Mulkey’s LSU Tigers at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina. The battle of the unbeatens began as well as the Gamecocks could have hoped. Led by efficient shooting and suffocating defense, the Lady Gamecocks stormed out to a 13-2 lead in just four minutes of game action, LSU’s largest deficit of the entire season.

The crowd in Columbia was electric as the lead swelled to 16 points. The Gamecocks began 8-9 from the field, while LSU was just 1-9. The initial run saw LSU with more turnovers (4) than baskets made (1). Coach Staley, clad in a throwback Randall Cunningham Eagles jersey for Super Bowl Sunday, lit into her team on the sideline after LSU cut into the lead with an 11-1 hot streak. National Player of the Year candidate Angel Reese then picked up her second foul with a cheap push of Aliyah Boston before the quarter ended, limiting her first-half minutes. The normally mild-mannered Boston responded with an aggressive bucket on the other end that ended the LSU run.

The end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second saw momentum return to the home team. Boston and company grew their lead back up to 9. As an answer, LSU’s Alexis Morris went nuclear in the second quarter, bringing her scoring up to fifteen first-half points and almost single-handedly cutting the Carolina lead to five points. Zia Cooke and Aliyah Boston led the way offensively in the first half, while Laeticia Amihere, Boston, Brea Beal, and Kamilla Cardoso were too much defensively and on the boards for the Tigers. Specifically, the defensive effort from Aliyah Boston, Brea Beal, and Kamilla Cardoso on Angel Reese seemed to be the difference in the first half, as she was held to just three points with five missed shots, two fouls, and two turnovers.

Coming out of the halftime break, the Gamecocks’ 42-32 lead shrunk to five as LSU played well early, but the Gamecocks responded, and the lead never was that small again. Boston and Cardoso continued to dominate down low, combining for 32 points (missing only six shots), 22 rebounds, and 6 blocks for the game and leading South Carolina to a massive victory on the glass, 43-25. The third quarter finished with the two teams exchanging back-and-forth buckets until a short burst at the end of the period pushed the margin back to 16 points.

The fourth quarter was non-competitive. LSU could get nothing going as South Carolina missed a lot of free throws but still somehow continued to separate themselves on the scoreboard. The final score was 88-64 as Aliyah Boston, Kamilla Cardoso, Brea Beal, and Zia Cooke were stellar all game in extending the team record for consecutive victories to 31 games. A smaller accolade for the Gamecocks, Angel Reese’s 23-game streak with a double-double fell far short of reaching 24 as she finished with 16 points on 33% shooting and just four rebounds. Aliyah Boston’s SEC record of 27 straight games with double-figure points and rebounds remains safe.

The lone remaining undefeated and clear number-one team in the country flexed their muscles on this Super Bowl Sunday, and they demonstrated yet again that there is no other team in the country who can match them.

88. 533. Final. 64. 529

The quest for a third national championship will continue on Thursday against the Florida Gators in Columbia at Colonial Life Arena.