"It's great to be a Gamecock", it read. And almost 10 years later and under the direction of coach Dawn Staley, the whole world took notice Sunday.
Wilson said she could not stop thinking about her late grandmother, Hattie Rakes, after she knew the Gamecocks had clinched the national title. Three Olympic gold medals notwithstanding, Staley would have been forever incomplete without an NCAA championship.
The Bulldogs were falling behind, which was not okay with them.
Her players said before the game that they wanted nothing more than to give Staley what eluded her twice during her playing career at Virginia. "And I think that title really does fit her". "Those were the things I could see, so those were the things I wanted". Schaefer benched William for the entire fourth quarter - a painful moment for a player who came into the game as the tournament darling.
"South Carolina played really good, got to take your hat off to them", head coach Vic Schaefer said after Sunday's loss, "Dawn and her staff did a tremendous job today and those kids played extremely well".
Gonzaga's Przemek Karnowski, who weighs in at 7-foot-1 and 300 pounds, will go head-to-head on Monday night with North Carolina's Kennedy Meeks, who enters the game at 6-10 and 260 pounds.
SC reached the Final Four in both men's and women's basketball, marking just the 13th time in NCAA history and the third time in SEC record books that a program has accomplished that feat.
Aggressive is the best way to describe this game. Each time, an A'Ja Wilson jumper stretched USC's lead to six. Her jumper sparked a 12-2 run after the Bulldogs cut the lead to four.
Wilson finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.
South Carolina women beat Stanford in Final Four
All four teams here have momentum. "Everything is going good", he said Friday. "We wanted to stay nationally relevant". The Ducks, despite their reputation as an up-tempo team, play at an adjusted tempo that was 241st nationally.
Victoria Vivians led the winners with 19 points while UConn was led by Gabby Williams (21 points, eight rebounds). It was a great fit for her family. "I don't feel welcome in that house", LeGarrette Blount said. Jazzmun Holmes, a sophomore, played the balance of the minutes at the point, and had 6 points in 17 minutes. The Gamecocks won both meetings this season before Sunday night, winning 64-61 in a home game during the regular season and then 59-49 in the SEC Tournament championship game.
"It starts with our rim protection and our versatility", Gonzaga guard Jordan Mathews said. The Bishop Gorman graduate grabs nearly the same percentage of rebounds as North Carolina's Kennedy Meeks, who's hailed as one of the best rebounders in the nation, with a block rate that's twice as high. "I think the way we attacked the rim and rebounded and defended tonight got us the win".
Wilson grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a put-back with 1:40 left to essentially seal the win for SC.
As the confetti fell, Wilson bawled at halfcourt, uncertain of what to do with the season's journey complete.
Asked if Schaefer said anything to her about not putting her back in the game, William said, "He shouldn't have to".
Even if the Bulldogs contain Wilson, South Carolina can rely on offense from shooting guards Allisha Gray and Kaela Davis and defense. "I'm honored to wear this state across my chest".
Gonzaga's Nigel Williams-Goss (5) celebrates after the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against South Carolina, Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. When growing up on the unforgiving streets of north Philadelphia, she said, she was aware of two ultimate objectives for female players: competing in the Olympics and winning NCAA championships.
"It wasn't our best day". She did good, she went 3-for-5 from the field, she was putting ball pressure and scoring points, so I can't be mad.