COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Dawn Staley thinks Connecticut's Breanna Stewart is a stellar player and competitor who has transcended the game. Staley would know, having redefined point guard play as the game's top player a quarter-century ago.
Now, it's up to Staley to gameplan against Stewart when the No. 2 Gamecocks (22-0) host the No. 1 Huskies (22-0) at 7 tonight in a game to be broadcast on ESPN2.
"When you have skill, the competitor that's in her, the willingness not to let her team lose, it's incredible," Staley said with awe.
Stewart has been the driving force for UConn in its past three NCAA titles — and has shown evidence that she won't leave college before going 4-for-4 in national championships. The 6-foot-4 forward tops the Huskies in scoring, rebounding and blocks and is second in assists.
"A'ja Wilson asked me, 'How am I supposed to play her?' " Staley said. "Well, if I had the secret I would give it to every other opponent of UConn. But you've just got to play and make her play both sides of the ball."
UConn coach Geno Auriemma says all the pressure is on the Gamecocks to win in their sold-out, 18,000-seat arena. "That's just the way of the basketball gods," Auriemma said. "The home team is supposed to win Monday night. But I'm Italian, I believe in the Roman gods."
NO. 10 FSU 75, CLEMSON 56: Shakayla Thomas had 17 points and Emiah Bingley added 15 for the host Seminoles (19-4, 9-1 ACC), who broke it open with a 19-0 second-half run.
NO. 3 N. DAME 66, NO. 13 L'VILLE 61: Madison Cable scored five straight in the fourth, including a big 3 with two minutes left, to rally the visiting Irish (23-1, 11-0 ACC) to their 16th straight victory. The Cardinals (18-6, 10-1) missed 12 of their last 13 shots.
NO. 8 ARIZ. ST. 69, USC 68: Sophie Brunner's three-point play with 1.9 seconds left helped the host Sun Devils (20-4, 11-1 Pac-12) to their 17th win in 18 games.
NO. 9 OREGON ST. 54, WASH. ST. 45: Sydney Wiese had 11 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter to help the visiting Beavers (20-3, 11-1 Pac-12) rally for their 10th straight win.
NO. 11 MISS. ST. 52, NO. 21 MISSOURI 42: Morgan William scored 17 to lead the host Bulldogs (21-4, 8-3 SEC) past the Tigers (18-6, 5-6).
NO. 12 TEXAS A&M 76, NO. 23 TENN. 71, OT: Courtney Walker had 10 of her 29 points in overtime as the host Aggies (16-7, 6-3 SEC) bounced back from consecutive losses. Texas A&M outscored the Vols (14-9, 5-5) 21-10 in the fourth quarter to force OT.
NO. 14 UCLA 73, ARIZONA 39:Monique Billings had 14 points and the visiting Bruins (17-6, 9-3 Pac-12).
NO. 16 MIAMI 61, DUKE 53: Adrienne Motley had 21 points and Erykah Davenport 15 rebounds for the host 'Canes (20-4, 8-3 ACC).
NO. 17 MICH. ST. 74, IOWA 69: Aerial Powers scored 25 and had a key steal and two free throws in the closing seconds for the visiting Spartans (18-5, 9-3 Big Ten).
NO. 18 KENTUCKY 70, LSU 58: Janee Thompson had 16 points and 10 assists, and the host Wildcats (16-6, 5-6 SEC) shot 54 percent (27-of-50) for the game.
OREGON 75, NO. 24 WASH. 63: Maite Cazorla and Kat Cooper scored 16 each, and the visiting Ducks used 35 fourth-quarter points vs. the Huskies (16-7, 7-5 Pac-12).
NO. 25 OKLA. ST. 70, TEXAS TECH 57: Brittney Martin had 32 points and 15 rebounds for her eighth straight double double as the host Cowgirls (18-4, 8-3 Big 12) won their sixth in a row.
TOP SCORER: Minnesota's Rachel Banham tied the Division I record with 60 points in a 112-106 double-overtime win at Northwestern. Cindy Brown of Long Beach State set the mark in 1987.
NO. 5 IOWA 77, ILLINOIS 65: Peter Jok scored 23, including seven during a five-minute span when the visiting Hawkeyes (19-4, 10-1 Big Ten) blew it open.
NO. 16 OREGON 76, UTAH 66: Dillon Brooks had 30 points and nine assists, both career highs, to lead the Ducks (20-4, 9-2 Pac-12) to their 22nd straight home win, one shy of the school record.
NO. 17 MIAMI 75, GA. TECH 68: Sheldon McClellan had 22 points and Ja'Quan Newton hit a big 3-pointer while falling out of bounds to carry the visiting Hurricanes (18-4, 7-3 ACC).