South Carolina Basketball: 6 thumbs up from a historic national championship win

South Carolina basketball got revenge on the Iowa Hawkeyes with a win in the National Championship Game on Sunday.
South Carolina basketball wing Bree Hall and her family after the Gamecocks' National Championship win to cap off an undefeated season.
South Carolina basketball wing Bree Hall and her family after the Gamecocks' National Championship win to cap off an undefeated season. / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina basketball finished the 2023-2024 basketball season undefeated. Their perfect 38-0 record was capped off with a win over Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes in the National Championship Game, and the program's third title made plenty of history.

The Gamecocks became just the fifth team ever to go undefeated, joining UConn (6x), Tennessee, Texas, and Baylor, and they became just the fifth program ever to win three national titles, joining UConn, Tennessee, Stanford, and Baylor.

Many didn't think they'd make it to this point.

After 37 weeks (spanning the entirety of the 2021-2022 season and the 2022-2023 season), Dawn Staley's team was not the preseason #1 this fall. In fact, Carolina was picked 6th in the preseason AP poll and many believed South Carolina basketball was in for a rebuilding year of some sort.

Instead, the Gamecocks dominated their way to their third ring since the 2016-2017 season (and they finished #1 in the polls in the 2019-2020 season before the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to Covid-19). No other team has won two titles during that stretch.

The game against Iowa didn't start off in a way that would lead one to believe the Gamecocks would win by double-digits. With the help of some hot shooting and some very friendly whistles from the officials, Iowa jumped out to a 20-9 lead in the early goings, and even after a big run from USC, Caitlin Clark scored 5 quick points to end the 1st quarter with her team ahead by 7.

From there, the Gamecocks dominated.

Raven Johnson started guarding Clark as her primary defender (more on that later), and the Gamecocks started making shots. As a team, Carolina dominated the glass (51-29) and used their size and athleticism advantage well.

Johnson made Clark's life miserable, Chloe Kitts and Kamilla Cardoso had double-doubles, freshmen Tessa Johnson and MiLaysia Fulwiley were huge boons to the offense, Te-Hina Paopao hit 3 shots from behind the arc, and Sania Feagin, Bree Hall, and Ashlyn Watkins had some big moments.

As has been the case all season for South Carolina basketball, the game was a well-rounded team effort as USC outscored Iowa 78-55 after the first 4 1/2 minutes of the game.

533. Final. 75. 483. South Carolina Basketball vs. Iowa Hawkeyes. 87


Typically, these articles after games include "3 thumbs up" and "3 thumbs down." That won't be what this article is. The only real "thumbs down" candidates from the game (other than the atrocious, one-sided officiating) would have had to do with the bad start or Raven Johnson's shooting struggles that she more than made up for with every other aspect of her game.

No, this article will serve as a look at "6 thumbs up" from the Gamecocks' National Championship victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes because, when you're the champs, thinking only about the positive is allowable.