No. 1 South Carolina escaped Palo Alto with a narrow 76–71 win over No. 2 Stanford (4–1) on Sunday in a marquee battle of the unbeatens and last two national champions.
The Gamecocks (5–0) rallied from a 12-point deficit to tie the game 61–61 and send it to overtime following a clutch jumper from star forward Aliyah Boston. The back-and-forth affair came down to the wire as the two powerhouses looked for an edge, which South Carolina appeared within reach of with a 73–71 lead with 24 seconds to play.
Gamecocks guard Brea Beal looked to slam the door shut at the free throw line with five seconds on the clock but gave Stanford life after missing both attempts. Amazingly, Cardinal forward Kiki Iriafen came away with a rebound on the second miss and called an immediate timeout, except Stanford had already used their final one earlier in the quarter.
The shocking mistake cost Stanford a last chance at possibly tying or winning the game as the call resulted in a technical foul and allowed the Gamecocks to salt the win with two free throws.
Despite trailing for much of the afternoon, South Carolina found a way to not only preserve its perfect record but also secure the program’s first road win over Stanford. In addition, the victory extended the Gamecocks’ winning streak against ranked opponents to 16 games.
Boston, the 2022 National Player of the Year, finished with a team-high 14 points and 13 rebounds to help the reigning national champions take home bragging rights over the team that beat them in the 2021 Final Four.
As for the Cardinal, the costly tech may evoke immediate comparisons to Chris Webber’s infamous March Madness blunder but, as it were, Sunday’s loss should give them plenty to learn from going forward.
Standout forward Cameron Brink anchored Stanford with 25 points, five rebounds and four blocks while All-American guard Haley Jones chipped in 11 points, nine boards and six assists.
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