Revenge is Best Served with a Side of Perfection

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By Maxwell Brucks

One may say nobody is perfect, but South Carolina proved that wrong as they got their revenge on Iowa to finish off the perfect season and win the national championship. Iowa got off to a hot start from the field with a ten-to-zero run. Iowa’s 12-point lead was their largest of the game but that wouldn’t last long as South Carolina would cut the lead to seven at the end of the first quarter. After the first quarter, South Carolina flipped a switch and took over the game. South Carolina would take the lead late in the second quarter and would never relinquish the lead after that. The closest Iowa got to tying the game was with 4:44 left in the third quarter as Caitlin Clark made a layup to cut the lead to two. Every run made by the Hawkeyes would be answered by the Gamecocks. The Gamecocks would have the final run to finish off the game and give them an 87-75 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes. 

The game’s leading scorer was the ever-potent offensive talent Caitlin Clark. She would finish the game with 30 points. Clark shot 10-28 from the field and 5-13 from three-point range. A much better effort from the Gamecocks after giving up 41 points to Clark in their loss to Iowa the year prior in the final four. The Gamecocks would be led in scoring by Tessa Johnson who had a career high 19 points. Johnson would be one of three Gamecocks to enter double figures in points. Kamilla Cardoso, Chloe Kitts, and Te-Hina Paopao were the three other Gamecocks to enter double figures and Cardoso finished the game with 17 rebounds, which led the game. Iowa would not score a point from the bench and only finished with 12 more rebounds than Cardoso by herself. Kate Martin was the Hawkeyes’ second leading scorer as she finished with 16 points, but the Hawkeyes just didn’t have enough firepower to take down the Gamecocks. 

This was South Carolina’s third national title and fourth straight final four. This is the first time Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley has gone undefeated. She had been close to immortality before as last year she lost to Iowa in the final four and finished 35-2 in 2021-2022 with losses to Kentucky and Missouri. Dawn Staley is etching her name into the history books as one of the greatest coaches in basketball history. For Clark and the Hawkeyes, this was their second straight final-four appearance and the third for the school. The Hawkeyes made the championship game in both final fours but came up short in both of them. Clark finished her illustrious career without a national title but still may be the best women’s college basketball player ever. She finishes her career holding the record for most points in a career in both men’s and women’s college basketball. Clark, Cardoso, and the many other women’s basketball players brought the women’s game to another level throughout the tournament, and it finished with the Gamecocks finishing off their perfect season. 

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