You couldn’t ask for much more of a premier NCAA tournament final than having the two most recent Naismith award winners in Paige Bueckers for UConn and Aliyah Boston for South Carolina square off. These don’t always live up to the occasion, and UConn has already provided one classic against N.C. State.
The main story will be how South Carolina simply frustrated the Huskies on the boards for their 64-49 championship win. The Gamecocks more than doubled up UConn in total rebounds, 49-28, and simply dwarfed them in offensive rebounds 21-6. When you’re one and done all night, but also giving away second-chance points like it’s a keg party, generally you’re going to end up on the ass-end of the final score.
That’s not all of it, as UConn reacted to South Carolina’s swarming and aggressive defense like they had to take a test completely written in braille. Bueckers didn’t have any driving lanes, as she and other Huskies saw something of the anti-Giannis picket fence defense at the top of the key, as well as heavy switching elsewhere. Most Huskies’ possessions involved someone dribbling for 20 seconds as if they’d forgotten where they parked. UConn couldn’t shoot over it either, going 4-for-16 from the three-point lane. And that’s how you end up pretty much getting blown out in the championship game.
It’s Geno Auriemma’s first loss in a championship game, which is quite a streak considering he had been 11-0. South Carolina coach Dawn Staley keeps her unbeaten record at 2-0. Boston didn’t even have to play the hero, as Destanni Henderson poured in 26 while Boston led the charge on the glass with 16 rebounds, five on the offensive end.
With the tournament concluded, and having captured a fair amount of imaginations thanks to that UConn-N.C. State game and the Bueckers-Boston matchup in the final (college basketball is always looking for the newest Bird-Magic redux) it’s perhaps time to ask why this is the case?
FIFA shouldn’t be the only one who faces an attack as to why they work things this way.