Boston leads Gamecocks with 23 points and 18 rebounds

In the first semifinal game Friday at the Target Center in Minneapolis, No. 1 overall seed South Carolina defeated Louisville, also a No. 1 seed, 72-59.

South Carolina made its fourth Final Four appearance in the last seven NCAA tournaments. Before Friday night, the team had allowed just 41.2 points per game in this NCAA tournament, according to

Junior forward Aliyah Boston -- the national player of the year who has been the Gamecocks' top scorer and rebounder this season, averaging a double-double -- finished Friday's game with 23 points and 18 rebounds.

The Gamecocks, who beat both Stanford and UConn this season, won the national title in 2017.

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley has led the team to three NCAA Final Fours in the last six tournaments before Friday -- and a national championship in 2017.

"When you're playing for a national championship, it is the team that can get to their habits quickly and stay there," Staley said Friday. "So whoever it is, you've got to go through a quality team to win a national championship."

Louisville Cardinals head coach Jeff Walz, in his 15th season, had made three trips to the Final Four before Friday and two to national title games. He was 33-12 in NCAA Tournament games.

"We did not play very well tonight, and we just -- I think we really struggled running our offense," said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer. "I think there were some self-inflicted wounds, what we were doing out there, and it was disappointing," she said.

VanDerveer, 68, has coached on the collegiate level for more than 40 years. Her first two titles with Stanford came in the early 1990s. Her third came last year against No. 3 seed Arizona, ending a 29-year wait.