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Welch, USC Head to NCAA's Top 16

Women's team to face Stanford on Saturday.

Aleighsa Welch and the Gamecocks Women's Basketball team defeated Perdue with a 72-61 win Monday, putting the ladies in the NCAA tournament's round of 16.

The Associated Press noted the Gamecock's excitment after the big win:

It was a milestone victory for South Carolina and coach Dawn Staley, who returns to the round of 16 for the first time since 1992, her senior season at Virginia. The Gamecocks also matched the 2001-02 squad for the school's most wins in the SEC era. 

"We knew we had to come out here and outplay them because they were on their home court," said Welch, a USC freshman and Goose Creek grad, in a press conference after the game.

She said this point in the tournament cements what she saw in the recruiting process.

"I saw a lot in this team that I loved," Welch said. "I knew we could be a great team. We're going out there and proving it."

At 25-9, the Gamecock women will face top-seeded Stanford, 33-1, on Saturday in Fresno.

Welch was featured last week by Gamecocks Online.

For South Carolina Women's Basketball, a single player leads the team in both rebounding and field goal percentage (also first in the SEC) and is third on the team in overall scoring. That might not sound all that surprising... until you realize that player is a freshman.  In her first season, as the Gamecocks prepare for their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2003, freshman Aleighsa Welch's rapid ascent has been remarkable.   

The large feature includes a conversation with Aleighsa's mom, Sharell Welch.

"It's a dream come true," Mrs. Welch said. "Of course she had options galore farther away, but I said with her being home she can have the family support and have the fan support. I think it opens the path for more South Carolina athletes to stay at home and support our state. I'm in heaven with the fact that she's here, it made a big difference for us."

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