CLEVELAND (AP) — South Carolina has joined an elite group, becoming the 10th NCAA Division I women’s basketball team to go through a season undefeated.

UConn was the last program to accomplish the feat, in 2016, and this year’s Gamecocks team might be the most surprising member of the club. Coach Dawn Staley lost all five starters from last season’s team that went into the Final Four unbeaten before losing to Caitlin Clark and Iowa. This time around, the Gamecocks used their size and depth to beat the Hawkeyes 87-75 on Sunday for the title.

South Carolina had a couple scares throughout the season. The Gamecocks were down at the half to Duke, LSU and Tennessee during the regular season. The biggest threat occurred in the SEC Tournament semifinals when they needed a last-second 3-pointer from Kamilla Cardoso to beat Tennessee and keep the perfect run alive.

The nine historic teams that South Carolina joined:

1985-86 Texas

The Longhorns were the first to go unbeaten, finishing at 34-0. They averaged 83.9 points a game and that was before the 3-point line. Texas cruised through the tournament, winning its first two games by 41 and 26 points. The Longhorns had a scare in the regional final before running through the Final Four with a 35-point win over Western Kentucky and a 16-point victory over Southern California to win the championship.

1994-95 UConn

This was the first of 11 championships for the Huskies. Geno Auriemma’s squad was led by AP Player of the Year Rebecca Lobo. She averaged 17.1 points while shooting 50% from the field. UConn won its tournament games by an average of 25.3 points with the closest contest coming against Virginia, which ended up losing by four.

The Huskies beat Pat Summitt and Tennessee in the championship game.

1997-98 Tennessee

After losing to UConn in 1995, Tennessee won three consecutive titles. The last of them was a 39-0 season when Summitt’s squad was led by the “Three Meeks” — Semeka Randall, Chamique Holdsclaw and Tamika Catchings. Holdsclaw won the first of her two straight AP Player of the Year awards. The Lady Vols capped their historic run with a 93-75 victory over Louisiana Tech in the title game.

2001-02 UConn

This was the beginning of a run of three straight national championships for the Huskies. This team had a star-studded lineup that included five future pros in Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Swin Cash, Tamika Williams and Asjha Jones. The quintet each averaged more than 10 points per game. They ran through the NCAA Tournament, when the only game that was within 18 points was the title victory over Oklahoma.

2008-10 UConn

UConn had two straight undefeated seasons that were part of a 90-game winning streak that broke the UCLA men’s record for consecutive victories. The Huskies were led by the superstar trio of Maya Moore, Renee Montgomery and Tina Charles, who combined to average over 50 points a game in 2009. The team’s closest game in the 2009 tournament was an eight-point, second-round win over Florida. The Huskies steamrolled Louisville by 22 points in the title game. The 2010 perfect run almost ended in the title game when the Huskies trailed Stanford 20-12 at halftime before rallying for a 53-47 victory.

2011-12 Baylor

Brittney Griner led Baylor to its first unbeaten season and the school became the first to win 40 games. Griner had 160 blocks over the course of the season and the Bears had nine Top 25 wins in the regular season. Griner and Odyssey Sims were the stars of the team that helped the Bears win the school’s second national championship. Griner had four double-doubles in the tournament capped by an 80-61 victory over Notre Dame in the title game.

2013-14 UConn

The Huskies had another generation of stars that helped the team win four consecutive titles. This was the second of the quartet and UConn had a balanced offense led by Breanna Stewart, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Stefanie Dolson.

This was the program’s first season in the American Athletic Conference after the breakup of the Big East. The new conference posed little challenge for the Huskies. UConn ran through the NCAAs before facing an undefeated Notre Dame team in the title game. The former Big East rivals had never met in a title game before, and UConn came away with the 79-58 win.

2015-16 UConn

This was the end of an era for UConn as Stewart capped her historic career by leading the Huskies to a fourth consecutive title and 11th overall. She earned Most Outstanding Player honors of the Final Four for an unprecedented fourth straight year. She averaged 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds while shooting nearly 58% from the field. UConn had only one game during the season decided by less than 10 points and went on to beat Syracuse by 31 points in the title game.


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