South Carolina defeats Iowa to win women's NCAA basketball championship

It was a classic rematch. Iowa defeated South Carolina last year in the semifinals.
Iowa - South Carolina national championship game

In what was billed as a classic battle and rematch, the South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes 87-75 in the NCAA Women’s basketball championship on Sunday, in a game that lived up to the hype and the moment.

South Carolina was led today by Tessa Johnson and Kamilla Cardoso, who combined for 34 points. Iowa's All American guard Caitlin Clark, who has become the face of women’s basketball over the last couple of years, scored 30 points for Iowa, but that wasn’t enough to defeat South Carolina, which won its third national championship under coach Dawn Staley, also having won in 2017 and 2022. Iowa, under coach Lisa Bluder, is the only team to have defeated South Carolina over these past two seasons with a win in last year’s semifinal match and has never won a national title.  

Staley won three Olympic gold medals with Team USA as a player and coached another team to an Olympic gold medal.

This was a rematch of last year’s semifinal game between these two powers in which Iowa won and moved on to the finals, where they lost to LSU.

This year, Iowa avenged that defeat by beating LSU in the Elite Eight round, the quarterfinals. Then, on Friday night, Iowa beat Connecticut 71-69 in a match-up of what was considered to be the two best players in women’s college basketball today, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, the all-time leading scorer in NCAA basketball history, men or women, having surpassed LSU’s Pete Maravich earlier this season, and Connecticut’s Page Bueckers, who in 2021 was the first freshman to win college player of the year and led her team to the Final Four.

With 14.2 million viewers, the game was the most-watched women’s basketball game on record and the largest audience ever for a basketball game shown on ESPN.

Connecticut, under head coach Geno Auriemma who was coaching his 39th season for the Huskies, has won 11 national titles since 1995, far more than any other team. 

South Carolina easily won over North Carolina State in its semifinal match on Friday to reach the championship game.

South Carolina finished the season with a record of 38-0, and their only loss in the last two years, both regular season and post-season, was last year’s semifinal loss to Iowa. South Carolina lost all five starters from last year’s team, but still made it to the finals today undefeated, and are now the champions.