SAN ANTONIO — Zia Cooke scored 16 points and South Carolina used its stifling defense to advance to the Final Four for the third time, shutting down Texas for a 62-34 victory Tuesday night.
Top-seeded South Carolina blocked 14 shots, nine by Laeticia Amihere, and held No. 6 Texas to 23% shooting. The Longhorns were outscored 10-0 in the fourth quarter.
Destanni Henderson and Victaria Saxton each scored 12 for the Gamecocks, and Amihere also had 10 points and eight rebounds.
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley ran her championship game record against Texas’ Vic Schaefer to 6-0, dating to when they faced each other in the SEC when Schaefer was at Mississippi State. That includes beating Schaefer in the 2017 national final.
South Carolina (26-4) won the Hemisfair Region to advance to Friday’s national semifinal against the winner of Tuesday night’s Alamo Region final between No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 Louisville.
South Carolina ran out to an 19-point lead in the third quarter, then responded to a Texas run with an burst started by a 3-pointer from Henderson.
Schaefer took the Texas job in April 2020 and coaxed an impressive postseason run out of the Longhorns behind a grinding defense that carried the school to the brink of its first women’s Final Four since 2003.
Texas was playing to be just the third No. 6 seed to make the Final Four since Notre Dame in 1997.
But the Longhorns looked tired after tough wins over UCLA and Maryland and may have simply been worn out by the time they matched up with the big and quick Gamecocks, who pressured the ball on the perimeter and denied shots inside.
Audrey Warren led the Longhorns (21-10) with 13 points.
South Carolina had no problems attacking the Texas defense early, with three backdoor passes for layups by Saxton as the Gamecocks raced to an 18-7 lead into the second quarter. And the Gamecocks denied drives to the basket and produced four quick blocks when Texas tried.
The Longhorns shot just 3 of 16 in the first quarter. Meanwhile, South Carolina shot 57% in the first half and stretched the lead to 41-22 early in the third before Texas clawed back with a 9-0 run that forced Staley to call timeout.
South Carolina answered with a 3-pointer from Henderson to start the Gamecocks on the run that would put the game away.
BATTLE UNDER THE BASKET
Aliyah Boston, South Carolina’s All-American center, dominated her matchup with Texas forward Charli Collier, who is projected as the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft. Boston consistently pushed Collier away from the basket and never let her get comfortable with her shot. Collier was a non-factor on the night, finishing with four points on 2-of-10 shooting points and four rebounds. Boston scored 10 and grabbed eight boards while controlling the paint.