South Carolina women's basketball makes statement with 59-43 win over UCLA in Sweet 16

·3 min read

After a close regular-season game, South Carolina women's basketball left no room for doubt in its NCAA Tournament rematch against UCLA on Saturday, beating the Bruins 59-43.

The No. 1 Gamecocks (35-0) advance to the Elite Eight after beating UCLA (27-10) for the fourth time in the last five tournaments. It is the team's sixth Elite Eight appearance since coach Dawn Staley was hired in 2008. South Carolina will face 2-seed Maryland at Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Monday with a Final Four berth on the line.

The 35th victory of the season for the Gamecocks ties the school record set in 2022. Senior Brea Beal dominated both ends of the floor for South Carolina, finishing with 10 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Senior star Aliyah Boston just missed a double-double with eight points and a team-high 14 rebounds plus two blocks and two assists.

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South Carolina makes first-half statement

The last time the Gamecocks faced UCLA in November, they came out sluggish and trailed by four at halftime. On Saturday, they had no such problems. South Carolina hit the first two baskets of the game and had nearly doubled UCLA by the end of the first quarter to lead 14-8. The second quarter was just explosive, and the Gamecocks were up by 10 at halftime.

The Bruins were plagued by early turnovers, allowing South Carolina seven points on eight turnovers. The Gamecocks' defense also locked down UCLA's high-speed play style, holding them to 6-of-22 from the field and allowing just three fast-break points.

Bruins' top scorers get shut down

Beal played the third-most minutes on the team and spent the majority of them guarding UCLA stars Charisma Osborne and Kiki Rice. The duo combined for 40 points in their first matchup with the Gamecocks, but a combination of Beal, Boston and Zia Cooke held Rice to three points and Osborne to two in the first half. While Osborne stepped up to reach 14 points by the final buzzer, Rice finished with three points and two turnovers.

UCLA averages just under 40% shooting from the field, but the team hit just 29.4% on Saturday, including 3-of-18 from 3-point range.

Rebounding dominance propels Gamecocks

South Carolina leads the nation in rebounding margin, and the team flexed that muscle against the Bruins. At halftime, the Gamecocks had nine offensive rebounds to UCLA's zero. Both teams shot below their average from the field, which significantly inflated the value of those boards.

South Carolina finished out-rebounding UCLA 42-34 overall, including 15-8 on the offensive glass. The team established its usual dominance in the paint, putting up 26 points there including 10 second-chance points.

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: March Madness: South Carolina women's basketball handles UCLA 59-43