The NCAA Women’s Final Four concluded, and a new champion has been crowned. The South Carolina Gamecocks, coming off of a heartbreaking loss in the 2021 season, protected their growing legacy with a 64-49 win over the storied UConn women’s team on the way to their second national championship. The Gamecocks, who came into the season ranked at No. 1, never took their foot off the gas under the close and marvelous coaching of WNBA vet, Hall of Famer and champion, Dawn Staley. To put into perspective just how impressive their win is: The UConn Huskies have never lost in any of their other 11 appearances in a national championship game, yet they never led in Sunday’s matchup.ย 

The win also marks only the second national title in the schoolโ€™s history.ย 

Naismith’s national player of the year Aliyah Boston, who dominated throughout the tournament, was named the Final Four’s most outstanding player, recording her 30th double-double on the season with 11 points, 16 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. But it was the attention that UConn had to pay to the star following her dazzling performance against Louisville that really made the most impact on the game.

“It feels amazing,” Boston said, CBS News reports. “Honestly, I’ve been thinking of this since last season because everyone had a picture of me crying at the end of the Final Four and they put it everywhere. But today we’re national champions and … happy tears. Happy tears. If you guys want a smile, here you go. And we’re national champions.”ย 

Senior guard Destanni Henderson showed up to shine with the most remarkable performance of her career on the tourney’s biggest stage. After putting the first points of the Gamecocks night on the board, a 3-pointer, Henderson ended the victorious outing with 26 points, four assists and three steals. She either scored or assisted on 13 of the team’s 22 field goals. Her defense was also a key factor in limiting UConn to 49 points on 40.7% shooting.ย 

“My teammates trusted in me,” Henderson said, according to CBS News. “I feel like since day one we’ve been putting in the hard work and waiting for this moment and tonight I just found open shots.”

For her effort in not only the title game but throughout the tournament as a whole, she has been named to the 2022 NCAA All-Tournament Team. She also makes history as the first player since 2000 to set a career-high in scoring in a national championship, ESPN reports.ย 

All eyes were also on the Gamecock’s leader, Dawn Staley. Since her arrival at the school in 2008, she’s transformed the program into one that is a frontrunner in women’s basketball. Not only did she become the first Black head coach in Division I history to win multiple national championships, she also started the season signing a contract extension of $22.4 million, a number not commonly heard of in women’s sports. Staley, who knows all too well how unfair and unequal the attention paid to women’s basketball can be, commented on the dynasty she is building out in Columbia, saying, “Our path was divinely ordered, and the order was for us to be national champions on this day,” Forbes reports.

Staley was seen grooving to Mary J. Blige’s “Just Fine” as she cut off her piece of the net on Sunday night, one that will no doubt join her piece from the 2017 team she coached to victory as well. She is now 2-0 in national championship games. Weathering the storm of a program in progress, Staley has been hard at work creating the type of culture that cultivates championships, and she said she feels like she’s finally gotten it right. “You’ve got to tell them the roles very early on, and then you have to remind them that this is what it is,” Staley said, Sports Illustrated reports. “We’ve asked all of our players, every single player, we’ve asked to make a sacrifice to make this year special. Sometimes that’s playing a whole lot. Sometimes it’s playing a little. Sometimes it’s not playing at all. On any given day, we’re in a position where we have some players that are just situational. Like this is your situation; you just have to make sure that you’re ready for when your number is called.”

And the girls most definitely answered this year. We love to see Black women proving, once again, that we got this! Congrats to the South Carolina Gamecocks and Coach Dawn Staley.