Stanford’s Haley Jones, South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston bond as rival stars

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When Stanford won the national title in 2021, COVID restrictions made it nearly impossible to interact outside of team bubbles.

Stanford’s Haley Jones found Aliyah Boston at the end anyways.

After Boston’s potential game-winning tip-in hit metal instead of net, and her South Carolina squad fell to the Cardinal in the Final Four, Jones and Fran Belibi, long-time friends, managed to get across the court to hug Boston.

“I think us being so close really boosted our competitiveness against each other,” Jones had said after that game in April 2021. “So, I mean it was a hard-fought battle. She played great. We both played great. So, we just wanted to pay her the respect that she deserves.”

The future faces of women’s college basketball might be UConn’s injured Paige Bueckers or Iowa’s sharpshooting Caitlin Clark, but the frontwomen of the sport right now are Jones and Boston, and their connection runs deeper than their college teams.

Both have titles now; after Stanford’s 66-65 win in 2021 over the Gamecocks, the Cardinal beat Arizona for their first title in 29 years, led by Jones. South Carolina defeated UConn last season, the team that had knocked Stanford off to prevent the rematch.



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