MINNEAPOLIS — This time there were tears of joy. South Carolina star forward Aliyah Boston made sure of it.
As confetti rained down on the Target Center floor, all that Boston had worked for and accomplished this season began to sink in. In the game’s waning seconds, she bounced in euphoria on the Gamecocks bench. And then, minutes later, after No. 1 South Carolina had defeated No. 2 UConn, 64–49, to claim this season’s national championship and second in program, the weight of the moment took hold.
“Happy tears,” Boston told ESPN’s Holly Rowe.
One year earlier Boston was moved to tears after missing a put-back layup at the buzzer in South Carolina’s Final Four contest against Arizona. This season’s National Player of the Year made sure Sunday’s victory didn’t come down to the final play.
On the game’s first possession, Gamecocks senior forward Victaria Saxton hauled in the first of her five, and the team’s 21, offensive rebounds and guard Destanni Henderson promptly buried her first three-pointer of the night, en route to scoring a career-high 26 points. There may have been more than 39 minutes left on the clock but a definitive statement had already been made.