By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Aliyah Boston didn’t miss this time, her layup with 1:05 to go giving No. 1 South Carolina a 65-61 victory over No. 2 Stanford on Tuesday night.
She finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, her fifth straight double double and 36th of her career.
It was Boston who couldn’t convert last April at the Final Four in the closing seconds to send the Cardinal to a 66-65 victory en route to the national championship.
This time, the 6-foot-5 All-American set herself up down low, got the ball from Destanni Henderson and put it in for the game-winning basket as the Gamecocks (12-0) rallied from 18 points down in the first half to keep alive their best start in six years. It was the biggest comeback in school history.
Stanford (8-3) had a chance to go in front, but Cameron Brink’s jumper came off the rim and into the capable hands of Boston.
Boston hit a foul shot and Destiny Littleton hit a pair with 0.8 seconds left to close out the win, South Carolina’s second this season over a No. 2 team and fifth against a Top-10 opponent.
It was a complete reversal for the Cardinal, who led by 17 points after Hannah Jump opened the second half with a 3-pointer. That’s when the Gamecocks, fueled by Henderson, went on a 22-4 run to lead 50-49 into the final period.
Henderson had 17 points and seven assists after missing the past three games due to injury. She also had seven steals.
Cameron Brink, Stanford’s leading scorer at 14.2 points a game coming in, was held in check by the Gamecocks and finished with three points on 1-of-7 shooting.
Lexie Hull led Stanford with 17 points, just three of those coming in the final three quarters.
South Carolina had been waiting for this one since the last Final Four, Brea Beal and Boston missing two short cracks at the basket.
But it was Stanford who came out quickly. Lexie Hull scored 14 points on a pair of 3-pointers in the opening quarter and the Cardinal kept up the barrage from outside.
Hull’s sister Lacie started the second period with a 3-pointer. Jump and Anna Wilson added long-range baskets. By the time Haley Jones got free for a layup, Stanford was up 34-16 in front of a stunned, mostly full house of South Carolina fans.
Stanford had the perfect formula for defeating South Carolina: Make most of your shots and push Boston away from the basket.
South Carolina’s pressure took its toll on Stanford, who committed 20 turnovers, 12 of those in the final two periods.
Stanford: The Cardinal were clicking when the shots fell. Once that stopped in the second half, they could not keep up with South Carolina’s speed in the backcourt in Henderson and its rebounding led by Boston. Don’t be surprised to see these two play again in March or April.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks needed every bit of Henderson, who had missed the past few games. She’s the experienced leader who makes the team go. She did it in this one and will have to do it even more with SEC play upcoming.
Stanford starts Pac 12 Conference play at Washington on Dec. 31.
South Carolina opens Southeastern Conference play at Missouri on Dec. 30.
More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
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