South Carolina’s No. 1 Women beat Creighton, reaching the Final Four | WFAE 90.7

South Carolina and Aliyah Boston earned what they’ve been bidding on all season — a chance to redeem themselves in the Final Four.

Boston scored 19 points to lead the top-seeded Gamecocks to their second straight Final Four with an 80-50 win over Creighton, ending the Bluejays’ surprise run through the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night.

The Gamecocks (33-2) took control early and rarely gave Creighton a chance to come back in the game, which ended with South Carolina earning its fourth Final Four appearance in the past seven tournaments.

Boston lost its streak of 27 straight double-doubles as it had seven rebounds in the blowout. She is happy, however, to have another chance to compete for a national crown and to erase the disappointment of last season.

That’s when Boston missed a narrow comeback in the dying moments of the Gamecocks’ 66-65 loss to eventual NCAA champion Stanford in the National Semifinals. She broke down in tears on the pitch and was almost determined to want to finish what the team missed at the time.

“It’s exciting,” Boston said of the Final Four’s return. “We said in the locker room, we have unfinished business.”

The Gamecocks will face either Louisville or Michigan on Friday in the Final Four. The top-seeded Cardinals will face the No. 3 Wolverines for the Wichita Area title on Monday night.

South Carolina danced and celebrated victory on Sunday as Boston held up two fingers for its consecutive Final Fours. Boston was named the Greensboro Area MVP for dominating through four games with a combined 67 points and 57 rebounds.

His signature moment, however, came Friday night against North Carolina when Boston scored 28 points, 22 rebounds and scored all 13 points in South Carolina’s fourth quarter in the 69-61 win.

“It’s been under pressure all season and it’s a relief to know we’re back” in the Final Four, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said.

It was a disheartening ending for the tough Bluejays (23-10), who had stormed through the Greensboro area to reach the Elite Eight. Lauren Jensen had 12 points to lead the Bluejays.

“Really frustrated and angry to have lost,” said Tatum Rembao of Creighton. “But really happy for everything we’ve been through in the past 10 days.”

South Carolina has struggled offensively this season, especially in the past four games — shooting less than 36% in the SEC Tournament Final loss to Kentucky and in NCAA wins over Howard, Miami and La North Carolina.

This time the Gamecocks were efficient, smooth and on target. They hit six of their first seven shots to take a 13-5 lead four minutes later. When Creighton closed at 13-10, South Carolina took off on a game-changing 31-10 push to take control for good.

Boston itself was unstoppable against a playerless opponent taller than 6-foot-1. She had six of seven shots in the first two quarters for 14 points. Destanni Henderson had 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers.

The Gamecocks led 46-25 at the break and built the lead to 32 points by the end of the fourth quarter.

Brea Beal and Henderson finished with 12 points each while Victaria Saxton had 11, giving South Carolina four double-digit starters. Saxton also led the team with 11 rebounds.

“It was well deserved,” Henderson said of the season. “Everyone got down to business.”

Creighton had hoped his unconventional offense, far from 3, could take the Gamecocks by surprise, as it did for seventh-seeded Colorado, second-seeded Iowa and Iowa State, third seed.

But much like the No. 15 seed St. Peter’s on the men’s side in their lopsided loss to North Carolina earlier on Sunday, the fight against the Power Five programs proved too much for Cinderella to dance to. Creighton couldn’t match the size of South Carolina and was passed 43-23.

“There were times when we had the five blue jerseys after the board and they still took it out,” Jensen said.

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