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Gamecocks Win First Battle 4 Atlantis Title

IN this photo provided by Bahamas Visual Services, the South Carolina women’s team poses with the trophy after defeating UConn 73-57 to win the championship game at the Battle 4 Atlantis NCAA
college basketball game at Paradise Island, Bahamas, yesterday. Standing at front left is head coach Dawn Staley.
(Donald Knowles/Bahamas Visual Services via AP)

IN this photo provided by Bahamas Visual Services, the South Carolina women’s team poses with the trophy after defeating UConn 73-57 to win the championship game at the Battle 4 Atlantis NCAA college basketball game at Paradise Island, Bahamas, yesterday. Standing at front left is head coach Dawn Staley. (Donald Knowles/Bahamas Visual Services via AP)

By RENALDO DORSETT

Tribune Sports Reporter

rdorsett@tribunemedia.net

The No.1 team in NCAA basketball lived up to that top billing and dominated the competition en route to the inaugural Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis Women’s Tournament title.

The South Carolina Gamecocks’ defensive effort powered a 73-57 win over the No.2 UConn Huskies yesterday in the championship game at the Atlantis resort’s Imperial Arena.

The Gamecocks went into the fourth quarter with a slim 57-54 lead, but limited the Huskies to just three points in the period, including a scoreless five-minute stretch to conclude the game.

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In this photo provided by Bahamas Visual Services, South Carolina forward Aliyah Boston (4) plays against UConn during an NCAA college basketball game at Paradise Island, Bahamas, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. Aliyah Boston had 22 points and 15 rebounds to help No. 1 South Carolina beat second-ranked UConn 73-57 to win the inaugural Battle 4 Atlantis tournament championship. (Tim Aylen/Bahamas Visual Services via AP)

Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley said it was an honour just to participate in the first edition of the event which she considers a milestone in the development of women’s basketball.

“This was great. The atmosphere was great. The Battle 4 Atlantis is run by a woman - Lea Miller- Tooley, this is the first time they are having a women’s tournament and it’s great,” she said. “We’ve missed out on 10 years on this type of atmosphere. So I hope moving forward great teams will come down here and play.”

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In this photo provided by Bahamas Visual Services, South Carolina forward Victaria Saxton (5), right, guard Destanni Henderson (3), left, and UConn guard Paige Bueckers (5), foreground, fight for ball possession during an NCAA college basketball game at Paradise Island, Bahamas, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (Tim Aylen/Bahamas Visual Services via AP)

South Carolina improved to 6-0 on the young season and recorded two wins against ranked teams at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Connecticut suffered their first loss of the season and fell to 3-1. “It is a challenge. You are going to play great competition and you are going to measure yourself against the best,” Staley said. “But the sun is out every morning, every day you get a beautiful sunrise, you get to wear shorts, I brought my [dog] Champ down here to meet paradise and it was a great experience.”

Aliyah Boston led South Carolina with 22 points and 15 rebounds, while Zia Cooke finished with 17 and Destini Henderson scored 15.

Reigning national Player of the Year Paige Bueckers led the Huskies with 19 points, but was limited to just six in the second half. The Huskies also got 14 points from Evina Westbrook and Chrystin Williams scored 10.

“Our players are determined. They are resilient. We knew exactly what we had to do,” Staley said.

Monday’s title game marked the 61st meeting between teams ranked No.1 and No.2 in the AP poll. With the Gamecocks’ win, the top team holds a 38-23 advantage in the matchup.

With the possibilities of the top-tiered matchup affecting the polls, the AP delayed the release of this week’s poll from its traditional release on Monday to yesterday.

The same teams met last year in a February matchup. UConn was the No. 2 team in that game as well and won 63-59 in overtime. “We didn’t really talk about last year’s game too much,” Boston said. “We have new players so we were kind of just thinking about what we were going to do in this game.”

Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma said his team struggled to support Bueckers offensively.

“She just didn’t get enough help today,” he said. “You’re really good when the other players around you are really good and today, I don’t think we were at all.”

The No.23 ranked South Florida Bulls pulled off the upset in the third place game with a 71-62 win over the No.9 Oregon Ducks.

The men’s tournament, also presented by Bad Boy Mowers, will move into its 10th edition, this week from November 24-26 and will feature several returning programmes.

The UConn Huskies (American Athletic Conference) will make their third tournament appearance while the Syracuse Orange (ACC), Michigan State Spartans (BIG 10), and Virginia Commonwealth Rams (A10) will make their second appearance.

The remainder of the field includes the Baylor Bears (Big 12), Arizona State Sun Devils (PAC 12), Auburn Tigers (SEC) and Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (Missouri Valley Conference) making their B4A debut in the 2021 field.

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