A banner was raised on Thursday afternoon at the Colonial Life Arena that no other team could raise. The South Carolina women’s basketball team finished the 2019-20 season as the unanimous No. 1 team in the country, and now there’s a banner in the rafters that says as much.
With the NCAA Tournament canceled last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there wasn’t a national champion crowned. Head coach Dawn Staley said that hanging a banner that said “National Champions” wasn’t an option, but this banner is not something any other team can boast.
“I like it because no one else in the country is able to do that,” Staley said. “It was fun in that moment to see that. The task at hand is what’s in front of us and that’s one that is next to it.”
That feeling when the banner drops… pic.twitter.com/o8H4hvG6NQ
— GamecockWBB (@GamecockWBB)
Sophomore Zia Cooke, a freshman on last season’s top-ranked team, said that she and her teammates knew that a banner was coming down, but didn’t know what would be on it. But the moments together and seeing last year’s accomplishments unfurled gave them an added boost headed into the game against Florida.
“We did not know what it would say,” Cooke said. “It was a very good reaction for us all. We were all just sitting there like, ‘I can’t wait to see what it says.’ It was definitely a good feeling and got us hype for the game.”
South Carolina won its Southeastern Conference opener against Florida on Thursday at the Colonial Life Arena 75-59. Post player Aliyah Boston finished the game with a career high 28 points. She also moved past the 500 career point mark becoming the 11th-fasted player in Gamecock history to do so, achieving the mark in only 39 games.
“We had no idea. We were kind of all in shock,” Boston said of the banner ceremony. “The banner just shows all the hard work we put in and how last season went for us. It’s motivation for us to do what we need to do to hang another banner.”
While Boston scored a game high 28, Cooke wasn’t far behind scoring 26 on 10-of-22 shooting, including 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
The Gamecocks will travel to face Alabama in their first conference road game of the season on January 4. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.