South Carolina women’s basketball earned the No. 1 ranking from both the Associated Press and USA Today Sports/WBCA Coaches Top 25 in their final polls released this week. It marks the first time the Gamecocks have finished the season atop the AP Poll, and the second time they finished a season at No. 1 in the coaches’ poll (2017).
In a season that saw five different teams hold the No. 1 spot in at least one of the polls for three or more weeks, South Carolina held the position the longest with nine weeks as the AP No. 1 and five as the Coaches’ Poll No. 1.
“In what has been one of, if not the most parity-filled, competitive women’s basketball seasons, it is good to see the hard work, determination and incredible accomplishments of our team recognized on the national stage,” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said. “Having the NCAA Tournament canceled, even with how necessary that was, brought out feelings of frustration, sadness, disappointment and a sense of emptiness from our players. Those feelings were not just about not having the opportunity to compete for a national championship, but also about not having the opportunity to eliminate any interpretation of what they had achieved. I reminded them that our success was measured by how we responded to challenges and obstacles placed in our path all season, but I also wanted that validation for them. Earning the final No. 1 ranking in both of these polls does what our team wanted. It leaves no question of what they achieved, it solidifies their place in history and shows the world that ‘what is delayed is not denied.’”
South Carolina's 32 wins included 13 against nationally ranked opponents, who the Gamecocks defeated by an average of 14.8 points per game. In the final analysis, South Carolina had the top RPI in the country and played the fifth-toughest schedule in the country. The Gamecocks went 16-1 against top-50 RPI opponents, including an 8-1 mark against top-25 RPI teams. Five of the 13 wins over nationally ranked teams were against top-10 opponents.
In program history, this season's team set records for winning percentage (.970), winning streak (26), scoring average (82.0 ppg), rebounding average (46.5 rpg) and blocked shots (284).
Behind a pair of seniors, one junior, three sophomores and five freshmen, the Gamecocks won the SEC regular-season and tournament titles each for the fifth time in the last seven seasons. Their 16-0 SEC record matched that of the 2015-16 seasons was the fourth such record in league history. South Carolina's success was based on excellence on both sides of the ball as the Gamecocks ranked sixth in the country in scoring offense and 20th in scoring defense. The team ranked fourth in the country in field goal percentage defense (.333) and 10th in field goal percentage (.470). The Gamecocks’ 12.4 rebounding margin was third in the nation, and they led the country in blocks per game at 8.6.