Fast Break Points: Undefeated South Carolina holds off LSU, UConn's Paige Bueckers drains insane buzzer-beater

South Carolina survived an upset scare at LSU on Thursday, leaving the Gamecocks as the only undefeated team in the nation. The Gamecocks’ excellence seems to be the only constant in January, as 2024 has provided plenty of chaos across women’s college basketball already. 

One of the craziest stories of the season revolves around TCU, a team that got off to its best start in program history. The Horned Frogs, however, compiled enough injuries throughout the early portion of the season to where they had to forfeit two games and hold open tryouts. TCU returned to the court this week, and in true Hollywood fashion returned to the win column despite all the adversity. 

Injuries have affected several other top programs, including UConn. The Huskies had another scare when Paige Bueckers went down in the first quarter of last Tuesday’s game against Marquette, but fortunately she was uninjured and gave us one of the week’s most incredible highlights.

Here are some of the biggest moments and storylines from the past week, as well as the top games to watch over the coming days.

Bucket of the week: Paige Bueckers, UConn

Bueckers hitting a halftime buzzer-beater from the logo, while on the move, was certainly a statement. The UConn guard left the court early in the first quarter last Tuesday to get her left knee checked — the same knee affected by last year’s ACL injury. However, she recovered quickly and went on to finish the night with a game-high 28 points in UConn’s 85-59 win over Marquette. 

Assist of the week: Molly Davis, Iowa

OK, this is not exactly an assist, but this pass from the ground shows how scrappy of a player Molly Davis can be. She got the offensive rebound despite falling, and this sequence eventually led to a jumper by Gabbie Marshall.

The Hawekeyes went on beat Nebraska 92-73 on Saturday. Marshall had two points, three rebounds and six assists, but this play goes to show a lot of her contributions don’t appear on the stat sheet.

Stop of the week: Maryland

Allie Kubek and Lavender Briggs had back-to-back blocks last Wednesday as Maryland led 56-46 against Michigan. It was a good effort, but the game ended up going to overtime and the Terrapins suffered a 79-77 loss. 

Game of the Week: No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 9 LSU

The Gamecocks snuck out of Baton Rouge with a 76-70 victory against the Tigers. LSU took control in the first half while South Carolina struggled to control the offensive glass and move the ball. 

LSU entered the break with a 41-36 advantage — the largest halftime deficit South Carolina had seen all season. However, Dawn Staley’s team came back out with more energy, and the fourth quarter was a particularly competitive one. 

The teams started trading leads halfway through the period. The Tigers were trying to hold on, but their job became more difficult after leading scorer and rebounder Angel Reese fouled out with 4:02 remaining. 

South Carolina junior guard Bree Hall tied the game 70-70 with 1:37 remaining. Teammate Raven Johnson then converted a layup with 24 seconds on the clock, sealing the Tigers’ fate.

TCU wins first game after forfeits

The Horned Frogs recently had to forfeit games against Kansas State and Iowa State due to a lack of available players. They hosted open tryouts and less than a week later signed four new players, including TCU volleyball’s Sarah Sylvester. The team was back on the court last Tuesday against UCF, and despite the adversity the Horned Frogs pulled off a 66-60 victory. 

Cameron Brink makes triumphant return

Stanford’s star forward was injured during the first quarter of her team’s win against Oregon on Jan. 19. Brink missed a game against Oregon State a few days later, but was back competing Friday against Arizona State. 

Stanford dominated the Sun Devils 80-50 on the road, and in her first game back, Brink put together a monster stat line of 20 points, 16 rebounds, three assists and three blocks. 

Matchups to watch:

(all times Eastern) 

No. 22 Syracuse vs. No. 18 Louisville | Thursday, Feb. 1, 7 p.m. | ACC Network Extra

The Orange earned its highest ranking in the Felisha Legette-Jack era after a win over Florida State on Jan. 18, then followed that with a huge victory over then-No. 15 Notre Dame this past week. However, Syracuse suffered a 75-62 loss to Virginia Tech on Sunday, so the team hopes to bounce back against a Louisville squad that has won their last seven matchups. 

No. 20 North Carolina vs. No. 7 NC State | Thursday, Feb. 1, 8 p.m. | ACC Network Extra

The ACC conference is supremely competitive, so it’s hard to predict the outcome of this one. These teams split their series last season, with each of them winning at home. NC State is one of the hottest teams in the country this season, as the Wolfpack has been ranked as high as No. 3.

No. 10 Texas vs. No. 13 Baylor | Thursday, Feb. 1, 8:30 p.m. | ESPN

Baylor beat Texas 85-79 on Dec. 30, the first game the Longhorns had to play without star point guard Rori Harmon — who suffered a season-ending ACL tear during practice. Losing a key player could’ve been devastating for Texas, but the Longhorns have adjusted really well and continue to be a dominant force. 

No. 11 USC vs. No. 6 Stanford | Friday, Feb. 2, 10 p.m. | Pac-12 Networks

These are two very competitive Pac-12 teams with some of the best players in women’s college basketball. Stanford star Cameron Brink is the two-time reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, while head coach Tara VanDerveer just became the NCAA’s all-time winningest college basketball coach. USC had a breakout season last year, and they’ve kept that momentum going in 2023-24 with the addition of freshman phenom JuJu Watkins.

No. 14 Indiana vs. No. 12 Ohio State | Sunday, Feb. 4, 12 p.m. | FS1

Ohio State took down Indiana during the 2023 Big Ten tournament semifinals, so this is set to be an exciting rematch. The Buckeyes showed how dangerous they can be with a 100-92 overtime victory over Iowa on Jan. 21. Both teams are strong offensively as they are among the nation’s top 25 scoring teams. MacKenzie Holmes leads the Hoosiers with 20 points per contest, while Jacy Sheldon leads the Buckeyes by averaging 17. 

No. 19 Virginia Tech vs. No. 20 North Carolina | Sunday, Feb. 4, 12 p.m. | ESPN2

Virginia Tech struggled in mid-January with consecutive losses to Florida State and Duke. However, the Hokies have bounced back since then with three consecutive wins against Clemson, Georgia Tech and Syracuse. North Carolina has a 21-14 advantage against Virginia Tech since 1979, but the Hokies have won the last four matches. 

No. 4 Kansas State vs. No. 10 Texas | Sunday, Feb. 4, 2 p.m. | FS1

Kansas State’s No. 4 ranking in last week’s AP Top 25 poll was their highest in 21 years. They’ve now secured the No. 2 spot after collecting wins over No. 13 Baylor and BYU. The Wildcats has succeeded despite playing without star center Ayoka Lee the past few games as she is recovering from a small fracture in her ankle. 

No. 2 UCLA at No. 6 Stanford | Sunday, Feb. 4, 4 p.m. | ESPN2

UCLA rose back to No. 2  in the AP Poll last Monday, and just a few hours later it fell to Utah in overtime. That was the Bruins’ second loss of the season, and both came at the hands of conference opponents. UCLA has been one of the strongest teams in the nation, but anything can happen in the Pac-12. Stanford knows quite well what it’s like to have a target on its back every night, as the Cardinal are the most successful program in Pac-12 history. Stanford is currently at the top of the Pac-12 standings with an 8-1 record in conference play. 

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