COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND — This season, like almost every season under head coach Dawn Staley, the South Carolina women’s basketball team embarks on one of the most challenging schedules in the sport, all in an effort to get it ready for a championship run when the calendar turns into the new year. After today’s first matchup of the year against a ranked opponent, it looked like the Gamecocks are championship-ready already in a statement made across the sport that they are more than ready to defend their crown.
Defending national player of the year Aliyah Boston had a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds as the top-ranked Gamecocks stretched out a close game in the second half en route to an 81-56 victory over No. 17 Maryland in College Park on Sunday afternoon. Guard Zia Cooke led South Carolina with 18 points while post player Kamilla Cardoso complemented Boston’s work in the paint by scoring 13 points off the bench.
Maryland, playing without All-America candidate guard Diamond Miller, kept it close by packing its defense in the paint to try and slow down Boston, and the Terrapins were down just 32-26 at the half. Late in the third quarter, the Gamecocks went on a decisive 11-1 run to open up a 56-39 lead, with Cardoso scoring a couple of baskets while Cooke nailed a three in between to open up breathing space for South Carolina.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Sunday afternoon’s game, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Yusuf Abdullah. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 17 pictures in total.