Aliyah Boston comes to life late as Stanford fumbles away an upset win over South Carolina in title game preview

Aliyah Boston with South Carolina.

Aliyah Boston hit shots when it mattered most on Sunday. (Photo by G. Fiume/Getty Images)

Things didn’t start well for Aliyah Boston on Sunday. After the first half, Boston had just 2 points and found their team trailing 35-31 before halftime. Boston refused to stay down long. She came alive in overtime to lead No. 1 South Carolina to a narrow 76-71 win over No. 2 Stanford.

The competition looked like a surprise early on. The Cardinal dominated the first quarter. Junior forward Cameron Brink started strong, scoring 12 points in the first quarter. Stanford ended the quarter on a 16-5 run and led 21-11 by the end of the quarter. Brink had 12 points. The rest of Stanford scored 9 points combined.

Led by his bench, South Carolina got his act together in the second half. With five starters on the bench, South Carolina put on a 9-0 run. Olivia Thompson hit a key three and Raven Johnson added two straight buckets to cut Stanford’s lead to a point. The Cardinal responded and held a five-point lead in the first half with less than a minute to go. Laeticia Amihere hit a free throw to cut Stanford’s lead to four points. The Cardinal went into halftime with a 35-31 lead. After a strong start, Brink remained without a point in the second quarter.

The two teams traded points early in the third quarter, but two back-to-back threes — the first from Brink and the second from Talana Lepolo — gave the Cardinal a six-point lead. As South Carolina tried to fight back, Ashten Prechtel hit another three-pointer for Stanford. The two traded baskets on the stretch, but Kiki Iriafen hit a layup with less than a second left in the quarter to extend Stanford’s lead to 10 points.

South Carolina refused to go down without a fight. Thanks to strong defensive play, the team found its way back into the game. Brea Beal forced a steal and grabbed an assist on a Zia Cooke layup to cut Stanford’s lead to four points. Beal picked up a block and a defensive rebound on Stanford’s next possession. Next time on the court, Boston blocked Haley Jones to keep the game tight. Stanford went 0-for-9 from the field to open the fourth quarter.

Cameron Brink is having a big day for Stanford before dropping out

With four minutes remaining, Brink – who saw limited minutes in the second half due to foul problems – hit a free throw to give Stanford their first points of the quarter. South Carolina continued to press in the final minutes of the game. Amihere hit a layup with less than three minutes to reduce Stanford’s lead to a point. Brink was then fouled by Boston and hit both free throws to make it a three-point game. That gave Boston their fourth foul of the contest.

Stanford continued to feed Brink play on the line. Brink converted a layup with 2:05 left. She drew a foul on the play and hit the field throw to give Stanford a four-point lead. With 14.9 seconds remaining, Beal hit a three to cut Stanford’s lead to a point. Desperate to get the ball back, South Carolina fouled Jones. She missed her first free throw but hit the second, giving Stanford a two-point lead.

As time was running out, Boston dumped a shot with 2.1 seconds remaining to tie things. Stanford failed to convert on his last possession and sent the game into overtime.

Brink continued to lead the Cardinal into overtime. On the team’s first possession, she fouled and hit both free throws. She added another two-pointer to the team’s next offensive possession. Brink missed a three on the team’s next drive but was able to intercept a block on South Carolina’s next defensive drive. South Carolina retained possession, forcing Brink out of the contest.

Aliyah Boston dazzles in overtime as Stanford forgets how many timeouts are left

With Brink eliminated, Boston took over for South Carolina. She hit shots on two consecutive drives for South Carolina and led 10-1 to play 70-69. Boston had only 2 points at halftime. She finished the contest with 14 points and 13 rebounds. On the next drive, Boston found Hall, who hit a three to put South Carolina on a four. Hall finished with a career-high 12 points.

Boston crashed on Stanford’s next ride. Iriafen hit both free throws to reduce Stanford’s lead to two points. Victaria Saxton was fouled on the next drive in South Carolina. She missed both free throws, but South Carolina retained possession after a jump ball.

South Carolina brought in the ball, but Stanford chose not to foul. The decision paid off. Agnes Emma-Nnopu got a bargain. With a chance to end things in the final seconds, Stanford was called out on a 5-second violation.

Bael was fouled with 5.6 seconds remaining but missed both free throws. Iriafen grabbed the rebound for Stanford and immediately called a timeout. Stanford was charged with a technical foul after the umpires determined the team had run out of time-outs. Cooke hit both free throws to extend South Carolina’s lead. She was fouled again and hit a final free throw to give South Carolina a 76-71 win.

The win continues a troubling trend for Stanford. In games between the #1 and #2 teams, Stanford is now 1-10. Stanford fell to 5-1 this season after Sunday’s loss. South Carolina opens the season 4-0 after winning the national championship last year.