STANFORD, Calif. — Just three months ago, North Carolina handed South Carolina its first loss of the season with an eight-point win on a neutral court in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
The stage is far bigger now as they gear up to face off again, both teams just two wins away from a trip to the Final Four.
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, who led her team (29-4) to the first top seed in program history, sees little benefit in studying tape from that December meeting in preparations for tonight’s rematch in the Stanford Regional semifinals.
“We took a peek at it. I don’t think you can take much from the game aside from some little things, adjustments we can make,” Staley said Saturday. “I think both teams are playing at a different level, so you have to get more current.”
The fourth-seeded Tar Heels (26-9) hope to keep winning so they can welcome coach Sylvia Hatchell back to the bench after her battle with leukemia. Doctors have said she has a good chance to travel to Nashville, Tenn., if North Carolina can reach the Final Four for the first time since 2007.
Staley doesn’t care about the stats from the first meeting, when her Gamecocks shot 1 for 11 from 3-point range.
She will settle for her post players being steady in the paint and finishing their chances.
“Defensively, we need to guard the 3,” Staley said. “We’re not a 3-point shooting team. If we can be efficient out there it will help our ballclub. Most important is our post players being 15 for 23.”
All the way out in California, these teams will play for bragging rights in the Carolinas.
“It’s a battle of Carolinas,” South Carolina guard Tiffany Mitchell said. “It’s kind of like a bragging thing at the end of the day. We want to be on top. Energy’s going to be high, attitude, spirit’s going to be high.”