And one. This should have been the greatest season in Gamecock history. Instead, it ended up one game short. The final record? Thirty-six and one. One loss.
That “and one” will haunt Gamecocks for a long time. How could a team so dominant, so focused, and so deep come up short?
How could Aliyah Boston, the most dominant player in the country, only score eight point?
How could Zia Cooke go from unstoppable in the first half (18 points, five rebounds), to an afterthought in the second (six points, three rebounds)?
How could South Carolina shoot just 4-20 from three even though on almost all 20 attempts there was nobody within eight feet of the shooter?
This was the season that was supposed to silence the critics once and for all. No more “But you didn’t beat UConn” in 2017 or “But you didn’t score enough” in 2022. This would be it – undefeated, one of the best teams ever. Instead it’s thirty-six-and-one.
Suddenly, instead of the two-time reigning champions looking to reload next season, the Gamecocks are 2-2 in the last three Final Fours with a pair of losses as favorites and losing the best group of players in program history.
The cupboard is hardly bare. That bench that supposedly made South Carolina unstoppable moves into starting roles. Bree Hall, who has now won a national championship as a freshman and experienced heartbreak as a junior, is one of those.
“This brings a lot of motivation, just knowing that I have to step into a really big role next year,” Hall said. “I’m ready to step into that role and become who I can be.”
The seniors could return, although most if not all will leave. Aliyah Boston will be the top pick in the WNBA Draft, and she said she will remember the first 36 games of the season.
“I’m going to remember a fun year,” Boston said. “I think we had so many great experiences, just winning — how many games was that? 36 games. Like I feel like that’s unbelievable. Coach told us in the locker room, she was like this is rare. Teams can’t say they did that. Even though this didn’t end the way we wanted it to, those 36 games prior to this were really good.”
She won’t think about the and-one.
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