After a month of upsets, blow-outs and overtime games, 2 teams were crowned the 2022 NCAA Basketball Tournament Champions. A dream that so many have, but only a few will ever be lucky enough to accomplish.
On Apr. 3, 2022, the South Carolina Women’s Team claimed their second title in just 5 years. After suffering a heartbreaking loss to the eventual 2021 tournament champions, the Stanford Cardinal. The Gamecocks were coming into the 2022 season with vengeance and they were not going to settle for anything less than a National Championship. Starting their season with a 12-game win streak they earned the top spot on the 2022 season AP Poll. A place where they would stay for the entire season. The Gamecocks were not going to let a 64-62 loss to No.7 ranked Kentucky in the SEC title game keeps them from dancing their way to a National Championship. That may have been the spark they needed going into the tournament.
After receiving the overall No.1 Seed on the Women’s Bracket Selection Show on Mar. 13, 2022. The Gamecocks were set to take on the winner of the No.16 play in game between Howard University and Incarnate Word University. A dominant performance by the Gamecocks, beating Howard 79-21 sent the Gamecocks into the second round where they would face a tough Miami team. However, one might assume that the team’s leading player, Aliyah Boston, or star point-guard Destiny Henderson lead the team with thirty or so points. They would be wrong. Out of South Carolina’s 15-woman roster, 14 of them made it into the game and 13 of them scored. It was very much a team win for the Gamecocks. Their next game against the Miami Hurricanes would not be as easy one.
With center, Kamilli Cardoso leading the team with 11 points. The Gamecocks were able to secure the 49-33 win over the Hurricanes and advance to their 12th Sweet 16. After beating an experienced Arizona team who had made it all the way to the Championship game the year before with 63-45. The North Carolina Tar Heels were set to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Sweet 16. In their closest game of the tournament, The Gamecocks were able to squeak past the Tar Heels thanks to a 28-point performance by forward Ailyah Boston.
In a shocking turn of events after beating the No.2 seed in the region, the Iowa Hawkeyes (64-62) and the No.3 seed Iowa St. Cyclones (76-68), the No. 10 seed Creighton Blue Jays, were set to play the Gamecocks in the school’s first ever elite Eight appearance. The Gamecocks were not afraid of this Cinderella team as they would have no problem beating them 80-50. With 4 Gamecocks in double digits, they had punched their ticket where they would play the No.1 seed Louisville in the program’s 4th Final Four appearance in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
After beating the Cardinals 72-59 in an exciting game the Gamecocks were heading to their second ever National Championship game where head coach, Dawn Staley would look to increase her national championship record to 2-0. But first they were going to have to get through a tough UConn team who had faced so much adversity throughout the season and a head coach, Geno Auriemma who was looking to defend his 11-0 Championship record. A rematch between the 2 teams after the Gamecocks beat the Huskies 73-57 in the inaugural championship game at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas earlier this year. This South Carolina team could practically feel the trophy in their hands. Senior point guard, Destiny Henderson wanted to leave everything she had on the court. After a career-high 26-point performance by the senior, the South Carolina Gamecocks had done it. They had beaten the Connecticut Huskies 64-49. After racking up a ton of accolades and finally completing the dream that they had waited so long to get. The South Carolina Gamecocks were the 2022 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Champions.