COLUMBIA, S.C. (BVM) — While winning a national championship takes a full team effort, the South Carolina Gamecocks women’s basketball team had some stand out stars. Different players stepped up on the biggest of stages when the team needed it the most. Players like Destanni Henderson who had a career-high 26 points in the national championship game became the first player to have a career high game in a championship game since 2000.
Still, the brightest of all those stars was forward Aliyah Boston. The 6-foot-5 junior started in every one of the 37 games for the Gamecocks this season. She recently was selected as the Wooden Award winner which completed her sweep of the national player of the year honors.
Aside from being player of the year, her other awards include the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year and both offensive and defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference. She was also named as the Final Four’s most outstanding player with 17 points and rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 blocks in the two games in Minneapolis.
While Boston had stellar freshman and sophomore seasons, her junior season was exceptional in comparison. She scored almost 200 more points than in her junior season that the previous two. She also had over 100 more rebounds this season than the previous seasons. Boston also finished the season with 30 double-doubles after coming into the season with 30 combined between her first two seasons.
Boston lead the team all season long with only one loss coming in overtime to Missouri in the first conference game of the season. Following that loss, the team thrived in conference play going undefeated for the rest of the regular season. Boston started all 16 conference games and scored 265 points, averaging 28.5 points per game. Her impact was felt not only offensively, but defensively as well with 143 defensive rebounds.
In the SEC Tournament, Boston scored 54 points int he three games played and contributed 37 rebounds in three games. This before the teams stunning exit from the tournament following only their second loss of the season and only loss in regulation to Kentucky by a score of 64-62.
In the NCAA Tournament, Boston scored 101 points and contributed 91 rebounds, 59 of which were defensive. Boston’s dominance on both sides of the ball was clearly evident all season but especially during their run to a national championship. Her ability to play both ends was unmatched in the NCAA and in the tournament.
The team ended a perfect streak in national title games for UConn holding them 25 points under their scoring average for the season. Boston and her teammates only allowed opponents to score 45.5 points per game in its six NCAA games making it the second lowest stat among mens or women’s teams in the last 75 years. Their 294 rebounds broke the all time record for the most in a NCAA tournament which contributed to their defensive success.
The title game win recorded a program record 35 wins for the Gamecocks. Of those wins, came a 14-0 record against nationally ranked opponents, another record for the program.
Boston will join her teammates and coaches for a victory parade hosted by Mayor Daniel Rickenmann, the Columbia City Council and the City of Columbia. The parade honoring the NCAA National Champions will be on Wednesday, April 13, at 6 p.m. on Main Street.