Stanford’s Haley Jones, South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston Bond as rival stars

When Stanford won the national title in 2021, COVID restrictions made it nearly impossible to interact outside of team bubbles.

Stanford’s Haley Jones ended up finding Aliyah Boston anyway.

After Boston’s potential game-winner tip hit metal over net and their South Carolina squad lost to the Cardinal in the Final Four, longtime friends Jones and Fran Belibi managed to come across the court to hug Boston.

“I think being so close really increased our competitiveness,” Jones had said after that game in April 2021. “Well, I mean, it was a hard fought fight. She played great. We both played great. So we just wanted to give her the respect she deserves.”

The future faces of women’s collegiate basketball could be UConn’s injured Paige Bueckers or Iowa sharpshooter Caitlin Clark, but the sport’s frontwomen are currently Jones and Boston, and their connection runs deeper than their collegiate teams.

Both now have titles; After Stanford’s 66-65 win over the Gamecocks in 2021, the Cardinal beat Arizona for its first title in 29 years, led by Jones. South Carolina defeated UConn last season, the team that knocked out Stanford to prevent the rematch.