GREENSBORO, N.C. — Midway through UNC’s postgame press conference following its season-ending loss to No. 1 South Carolina in the Sweet 16, a reporter in the crowd prefaced their question to head coach Courtney Banghart with an apology for bringing up a “bad subject."
“Aliyah Boston again?” Banghart replied, without missing a beat.
If you were North Carolina on Friday night, it was hard to escape the name — and relentless dominance — of South Carolina’s season-long X factor. Despite UNC’s best efforts, Boston recorded 28 points and 22 rebounds in her 27th straight double-double, carrying the Gamecocks to a 69-61 win.
“She was an absolute problem,” Banghart said. “Aliyah Boston going for 20-20 isn't surprising anybody in this room.”
Boston was virtually unstoppable in the late stretch of the game, with 19 of her points and 12 of her rebounds coming in the second half. She became the fourth player since 2000 to have a 20-20 performance in the Sweet 16 or later.
And it wasn’t for a lack of effort on North Carolina’s part, either.
UNC had given South Carolina multiple different defensive looks throughout the game. The Tar Heels tried denying the entry pass at first, but couldn’t quite get around Boston’s 6-foot-5 frame. By the second quarter, the team shifted to a pack line defense, which the Gamecocks’ formidable outside shooters, Destanni Henderson and Zia Cooke, took full advantage of.
And by the third quarter? Boston had taken over.
“Our initial game plan in the beginning was really crowd the paint and really limit the bigs' touches,” sophomore guard Deja Kelly said. “And then the guards kind of started going on their own little run. They were hitting outside shots, jumpers, which is something we were going to make them do, and they did."