Busting Brackets

South Carolina’s chase for perfection completed by win over Iowa Hawkeyes

Apr 7, 2024; Cleveland, OH, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks center Kamilla Cardoso (10) embraces head coach Dawn Staley.
Apr 7, 2024; Cleveland, OH, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks center Kamilla Cardoso (10) embraces head coach Dawn Staley. / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes ended the South Carolina Gamecock’s pursuit of a perfect season in the Final Four.

This time around, Dawn Staley and her team attained what hadn’t been done since the 2016 UConn Huskies: a perfect season topped off by the national title.

Staley was visibly emotional after the win, a sight not common for fans of collegiate basketball.

Clark’s 30-point game and record-breaking season simply weren’t enough to push the Hawkeyes past the Gamecocks.

South Carolina had done it, they finished the perfect season at 38-0, including a win in the National Championship game.

“Perfection with a touch of sweet redemption,” ESPN’s analyst Ruan Ruocco said. “South Carolina has won its third National Championship.”

Kamilla Cardoso, who led South Carolina throughout the season, scored 15 points and amassed 17 rebounds for the Gamecocks. USC was led in scoring by Tessa Johnson with 19 points off the bench.

Cardoso was named the Most Outstanding Player of the national title game.

“I’m so incredibly happy for our players,” Staley said. “It doesn’t always end how you want it to win… I hope this can erase the pain from last year.”

Staley wasn't the only one happy for her team as fans and fellow ballers across the country celebrated and congratulated the Gamecocks.

Joining Cardoso and Johnson in double-digit scoring, Te-Hina Paopao earned 14 points and Chloe Kitts contributed 11 points for their team.

South Carolina outrebounded Iowa on both ends of the court, giving themselves additional offensive opportunities and reducing how many shots the Hawkeyes could get off. At the end of 40 minutes, the Gamecocks had brought down 51 rebounds while Iowa only earned 29 boards.

Not only did South Carolina go out as national champions, but the Gamecocks also won the SEC regular season and SEC Tournament titles this season.

Staley was able to coach South Carolina to the national championship victory after losing all five starters from the 2023 season.

While the Gamecocks had earned redemption against the Hawkeyes, Iowa was once again stunned in the title game – the team lost to the LSU Tigers in 2023.

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