South Carolina is heading to a third straight Final Four, with a chance at a second straight national championship, and is feeling as inevitable as ever.
The top-ranked Gamecocks defeated No. 2 seed Maryland 86-75 in the Elite Eight on Monday, winning the Greenville 1 regional and setting up a clash with Iowa on Friday in the Final Four in Dallas. Their undefeated streak now sits at 41 games.
The 11-point margin was South Carolina's closest win since its regular season finale against Georgia on Feb. 26.
The win was faithful to the South Carolina brand. Likely WNBA Draft No. 1 overall pick Aliyah Boston led the way with 22 points. The Gamecocks dominated the boards, outrebounding the Terrapins 48-26 and hauling in 25 of their 38 misses. Their defense, facing a strong Maryland attack, held the opponent to 51% shooting on layups.
Even with South Carolina shooting only 45.7%, it didn't matter. Its size almost always creates an insurmountable math problem for other teams — how do you outscore an elite defensive team that, entering Monday, has recovered 48.8% of its misses? — and Maryland didn't have the answer.
For much of the first half, Maryland at least looked like it had a chance, clearing the paint on offense to prevent South Carolina's interior defenders from clogging the lane, but the Gamecocks were up by 8 points by the end of halftime and grabbed a double-digit lead early in the third quarter.
The writing was on the wall by then, especially when Maryland's Abby Meyers picked up her third and fourth fouls on back-to-back plays. Meyers had been having a great game, but eventually fouled out with 14 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
Next up will be Caitlin Clark, in a matchup between a 40-point triple-double force and a seemingly immovable object.