South Carolina women’s basketball guard Raven Johnson looking to show growth in rematch against Iowa

CLEVELAND — After last year’s Final Four game between Iowa and South Carolina, guard Raven Johnson was at the lowest point in her athletic career.  

The Gamecocks’ 59-game winning streak had ended by way of the Hawkeyes, who won 77-73 en route to their first national championship appearance in program history.


Johnson was subject to ridicule and embarrassment after a video went viral during the game of Caitlin Clark disrespecting the South Carolina guard’s three-point shooting abilities by leaving her wide open and waving her off.

Caitlin Clark didn’t bother with defending Raven

— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) April 1, 2023

The play haunted Johnson, as she claims to have watched it hundreds of times and said that it almost caused her to quit basketball entirely.

“I remember being in my room just crying every day watching that game over and over,” Johnson said during Saturday’s press conference.

Luckily for Gamecock fans, cooler heads prevailed. Johnson stuck with the game she grew up loving and used the backlash from last year’s Final Four to fuel her best statistical season to date for South Carolina.

She has helped lead her team to a 37-0 record on the season and a trip to the national championship in a rematch against the Hawkeyes.

“I love seeing her growth in confidence as a person and a player,” guard Te-Hina Paopao said during Saturday’s press conference. “She is so much fun to be with, and I got so much love for her.”

In her first season starting consistently for South Carolina, Johnson has almost doubled her points per game from last year with 8.2. Her rebounds and assists per game have also increased. Johnson will most likely have the assignment of guarding Clark, as she is one of her team’s best perimeter defenders, leading the Gamecocks with 2.1 steals per game.

Johnson credited teammate MiLaysia Fulwiley for helping her get out of her rut over last year’s Final Four game and reinvigorating her love for her religion.

“I remember [MiLaysia] came into my room, and she saw me crying one day, I don’t even know how she got in my room. I thought I locked the door, but she got me closer to God,” Johnson said. “I started going to church, and ever since then, my mindset changed, so she’s really the one that helped me deal with it.”

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said Johnson’s success on the court this season has allowed her to better express herself outside of the court with teammates and friends.

“She feels a lot more comfortable to share who she is,” Staley said. “She’s on the pathway of who she wants to be, and she’s not afraid to say or do some things that will rock you a little bit or make you laugh.”

Staley believes Johnson will continue to have a successful career because of how she managed the adversity from the last time these two squads faced off.

“I think when you’re embarrassed, [and] when we lost, like all of that makes you question, and the game will do that to you,” Staley said. “Raven is in a good place, and she’s been given what she needed to learn [during] a young moment in her career, and she will continue to grow.”

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