Gamecocks Complete Perfect Season; Win National Championship over Iowa

Dick Cox

April 11, 2024 at 11:01 am.

South Carolina’s women’s basketball team completed their self-proclaimed “Revenge Tour” with an 87-75 win over Iowa in front of a sellout crowd in Cleveland to capture their third national championship, becoming only the tenth team ever to go undefeated.

The Championship game set a new record with over 24 million television viewers tuned in. The Gamecocks now have a remarkable 74-1 record over the past two seasons, and have now won 106 of their past 109 games over a three-year period.

National Player of the Year Catlin Clark got the Hawkeyes off to fast start as she scored a record 18 points in the first quarter as Iowa jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but the Gamecock defense wore her down and she was not a factor afterward, scoring only 12 points over the final 30 minutes. Clark finished with 30 points in her final college game.

One of the stories of the game was the South Carolina bench. The Gamecocks have nine players that play equal minutes in every game. They basically have nine starters. They have had five different leading scorers in their previous five tournament games before the championship. Carolina’s bench outscored Iowa’s bench 37-0 in championship points. In an earlier tournament win over North Carolina, the Gamecock bench outscored the entire Tar Heel team, 51-41.

Another key story in the game was the South Carolina dominance on the glass. The Gamecocks out rebounded the Haweyes, 51-29. Carolina center Karmilla Cardoso pulled down a career high 17 rebounds. South Carolina outscored Iowa 48-32 in the paint and 30-16 in second-chance points.

South Carolina freshman guard Tessa Johnson came off the bench to lead the Gamecocks in scoring with 19 points. Other Carolina players scoring in double figures were Cardoso 15 points, Te-Hina Paopao 14 points and Chloe Kitts 11 points.

The “Revenge Tour” began last season after Iowa upset the 36-0 and No. 1 ranked Gamecocks in the national semi-finals. The Gamecocks had seemed a sure bet to win back-to-back national championships, but Iowa pulled off the massive upset.

During the game Catlin Clark taunted South Carolina guard Raven Johnson for not shooting the basketball and publicly humiliated her in front of a national audience. After the game, Johnson was so upset that she thought about giving up basketball. Gamecock Coach, Dawn Staley, was so upset after the upset loss that she thought about retiring.

The Gamecocks lost five players to the WNBA draft and lost their entire starting five to graduation. Staley saw the Carolina weakness was outside shooting, so she signed the best three-point shooter in the transfer portal (Te-Hina PoaPoa), signed the best high school three-point shooter (Tessa Johnson) and brought in best high-guard in country (MiLaysia Fulwiley) to reload South Carolina’s roster.

Raven Johnson did not give up basketball, but she used the embarrassment as motivation. She watched a replay of the Iowa game over 100 times. She worked on her shot every day. Johnson named the 2023-2024 season the “Revenge Tour,” and she willed her team to win every game and get another shot at Catlin Clark in the national championship game.

No one knew what to expect from this year’s Gamecocks women’s team, but after a big win in Paris, France against a nationally ranked Notre Dame team, everyone knew that South Carolina was back in the national championship hunt again. Carolina went on to win 38 games in a row.

When Clark got off to a hot start in the championship game, Staley knew who to put on her to stop her scoring and that was Johnson. Johnson’s defense shut down Clark as the Gamecocks went on to win. After the game, Johnson said that she only had one thing to say, “The Revenge Tour is officially over.”

Johnson and the Gamecock Nation had waited an entire year to get another shot at Iowa and they got what they wanted.

ALL  |  NFL  |  College Football  |  MLB  |  NBA