South Carolina women’s basketball winning streak: Inside the Gamecocks’ undefeated record entering Final Four

South Carolina finds itself in a place it’s become all too familiar with over the years: the Final Four.

The Gamecocks are on the prowl, and they look as good as advertised this time around, barreling through teams with impunity to the tune of a faultless 36-0 record.

Dawn Staley’s group has often flirted with greatness throughout her 16-year tenure in Columbia, South Carolina. They have two national titles and five Final Four appearances since she took the reins on South Carolina’s sideline.

Staley has also coached some of the college game’s greatest-ever players, from A’ja Wilson and Allisha Gray to, more recently, Aliyah Boston. Yet it’s this bunch of players — led by standouts Kamilla Cardoso, Raven Johnson, and Bree Hall — who could stand as the best group to ever be assembled under Staley’s tutelage.

That’s shown in the numbers, too. So without further adieu, here’s a look at the most eye-catching statistics from South Carolina’s unprecedented run in 2023-24.

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South Carolina’s unbeaten season, by the numbers

33.9 bench points per game

The Gamecocks are averaging 33.9 bench points per game, the second-best mark in all of college basketball, trailing only Murray State (35.4). Strength is in numbers in the college game, and no side is teeming with more bench talent than South Carolina, whose backup four of MiLaysia Fulwiley, Ashlyn Watkins, Tessa Johnson, and Sania Feagin strikes fear in the heart of any opposition it faces.

In the Gamecocks’ Elite Eight victory over Oregon State, Fulwiley, Watkins, Johnson, and Feagin combined for 38 points, more than Staley’s starters.

7.9 blocks per game

Staley’s side is ravenous, desperate to get its hands on errant efforts as they twirl toward the baskets. Blessed with hulking paint presences in Cardoso, Watkins, and Feagin, the Gamecocks are averaging 7.9 blocks per contest, nearly two blocks better than the second-most prolific blocking team in the country, Boise State.

49.23 percent field goal shooting

South Carolina doesn’t get good looks — it gets great looks. And more often than not, it tends to sink such efforts. The Gamecocks are shooting an otherworldly 49.23 percent from the field, the fourth-best figure in college.

Much of that success comes down to the quality looks Staley’s offense generates for its harrowing post figures, Cardoso, Watkins, Feagin, and Chloe Kitts. However, South Carolina isn’t opposed to launching from beyond the arc, either. In fact, the Gamecocks are quietly one of the country’s most dangerous three-point shooting team, sinking 39.37 percent of its attempts. That’s the third-best rate in the country. It’s also nearly two percentage points better than Iowa, although the Hawkeyes have attempted nearly 500 more three-point attempts.

32.1 percent 

No team in college basketball is as stingy defensively as the Gamecocks. South Carolina is holding its opposition to just 32.1 percent shooting from the field, by far the best rate in college basketball.

Staley’s unit is spearheaded by Cardoso, a 6-foot-7 wunderkind who dissuades a great many drive attempts. She earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year for her exploits this season, following in the footsteps of fellow SC defensive dynamos like Aliyah Boston and A’ja Wilson.

She wasn’t alone, however. Watkins swatted four shots away against the Beavers, coming into her own as Cardoso struggled with foul issues. Johnson has quietly developed into one of the nation’s most feared perimeter defenders, too, shrouding opping ball-handlers like a blanket.

29.6 average margin of victory

No statistic better sums up the Gamecocks’ excellence than their average margin of victory. During their unbeaten season, they have vanquished opponents by an average of 29.6 points per contest.

Unsurprisingly, that’s the best mark in college basketball, six points better than second-place UConn.

Look at those numbers again, though. The leading scorer in all the land is Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, who is averaging 32 points per game this season. The second-leading scorer, you ask? JuJu Watkins, who posted an average of 27 points per game in her maiden season at USC.

So, if South Carolina’s scoring margin were an NCAA player, it would be the second-highest scoring player in the country. It doesn’t get much more impressive than that.

107-3

Under Staley’s reign, the Gamecocks have been nearly faultless. They’ve won 107 of their past 110 games, notching three-straight Final Four appearances in the process.

It’s not quite the 111-game winning streak UConn enjoyed from 2014-16, but it’s still quite impressive, especially considering that South Carolina has enjoyed back-to-back unbeaten regular seasons. In fact, the Gamecocks have gone some 826 days since their last regular season defeat.

Unbeaten national champions in NCAA women’s basketball history

South Carolina finds itself on the brink of greatness, just two games away from securing an unbeaten season. If the Gamecocks do accomplish such a feat, they’ll join a rather exclusive list of teams to have outmatched all opposition en route to a national championship win.

Such distinction has only been achieved on nine occasions. Here’s a closer look at those impressive campaigns.

Record School Years
34-0 Texas 1985-86
35-0 UConn 1994-95
39-0 Tennessee 1997-98
39-0 UConn 2001-02
39-0 UConn 2008-09
39-0 UConn 2009-10
40-0 Baylor 2011-12
40-0 UConn 2013-14
40-0 UConn 2015-16

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