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March Madness: South Carolina advances to third straight Final Four appearance

<i>Matt Krohn/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters</i><br/>South Carolina beat the UConn Huskies to win last year's women's NCAA championship.
Matt Krohn/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters
South Carolina beat the UConn Huskies to win last year's women's NCAA championship.

By Thomas Schlachter and Homero De la Fuente, CNN

The South Carolina Gamecocks have continued their incredible unbeaten run with an 86-75 win against the Maryland Terrapins — setting up a blockbuster Final Four clash against Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

The defending champions were not at their best throughout the opening stages of their Elite Eight matchup against the Terrapins and were surprisingly trailing after the first quarter.

As ever, Aliyah Boston led from the front and, along with Zia Cooke, helped South Carolina gain control of proceedings in the second quarter.

The reigning Naismith women’s player of the year and Naismith women’s defensive player of the year has had another standout season and put on another impressive display when it mattered most.

Boston tallied 22 points and 10 rebounds — her 82nd college double-double — in the victory to lead the Gamecocks to their third straight Final Four appearance.

With the win, South Carolina improved to 36-0 this season and extended its win streak to 42 in a row, dating back to last year’s national championship season.

When asked if this South Carolina squad was the best team she’s ever coached, Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley said, “I mean, this team has been to three consecutive Final Fours. I think they separate themselves from any other team that we’ve been a part of.”

Staley will know her team needs to be at its absolute best in the Final Four to prevent Clark from stealing the show for the Hawkeyes.

Clark became the first player in NCAA Tournament history — men’s or women’s — to record a 40-point triple-double to lead Iowa to its first Final Four appearance since 1993.

Elsewhere, the Virginia Tech Hokies reached their first Final Four in program history, with an 84-74 victory over the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes.

Led by Elizabeth Kitley’s double-double and Georgia Amoore’s 24 points, the Hokies came back from a first-quarter deficit to seal victory in the Elite Eight.

“It is so huge. I can’t even speak right now, I can’t believe it,” Amoore told the ESPN broadcast on what it meant to advance to the first Final Four in program history.

“Ohio State is such an incredible team and that game was just phenomenal and I’m just so happy for us and the program.”

The Hokies will face the No. 3-seeded LSU Tigers in the Final Four as they look to continue their March Madness run.

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