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Aliyah Boston dominates Louisville as South Carolina reaches title game

Apr 1, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Louisville Cardinals forward Olivia Cochran (44) controls the ball as South Carolina Gamecocks forward Aliyah Boston (4) defends in the second half in the Final Four semifinals of the women's college basketball NCAA Tournament at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Aliyah Boston had 23 points and 18 rebounds to pace South Carolina to a 72-59 victory over Louisville on Friday night in the first semifinal at the women’s Final Four.

South Carolina (34-2), the top overall seed in the tournament, will face either defending champion Stanford (32-3) or UConn (29-5), winner of 11 national titles, in the title game Sunday night at Target Center.

Boston, the Naismith National Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, hit 8 of 12 shots and 6 of 7 free throws. The 6-5 junior punctuated her performance with her only 3-pointer make it 68-54 with 3:12 left.

Brea Beal added 12 points and Destanni Henderson 11 for the Gamecocks, who lost to Stanford, 66-65, in the national semifinals last season. South Carolina won its only national title in 2017.

Emily Engstler had 18 points and nine rebounds for Louisville (29-5) before fouling out with 4:56 remaining. Hailey Van Lith, who scored at least 20 points in each of the first four tournament games, was held to nine points on 4-of-11 shooting.

South Carolina gained control with runs on each side of the half. The Gamecocks closed the second quarter with a 10-4 run for a 34-28 lead, then opened the third period with a 10-2 spurt. Victaria Saxton hit two free throws to put South Carolina up 44-30.

After going 2 of 9 from beyond the arc in the first two quarters, the Gamecocks hit their first three attempts from deep in the third quarter, pushing the lead to 51-36 on Henderson’s 3-pointer.

The Cardinals scored six straight to pull within 54-48, but Boston converted a three-point play with 4.2 seconds left as Engstler picked up her fourth foul.

South Carolina threatened to pull away early in the second quarter, but Louisville erased a 19-10 deficit with a 12-0 run.

After being outrebounded 9-1 in opening minutes, Louisville battled back to even the rebound count at 19-19 at the half and held a 10-2 advantage in second-chance points.

–Jim Hoehn, Field Level Media