The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

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

Johnson said she considered walking away from basketball after a viral video from last season’s Final Four showed Iowa’s Caitlin Clark disregarding her three-point shooting abilities.
Ayrton Breckenridge
South Carolina guard Raven Johnson shoots the ball during a day of press conferences and open practices ahead of a NCAA Championship game between No. 1 Iowa and No. 1 South Carolina at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio, on Saturday, April 6, 2024. The Hawkeyes and the Gamecocks face off at 2:00 p.m. CT. (Ayrton Breckenridge/The Daily Iowan)

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. 

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,” Johnson said. “She got me closer to God—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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About the Contributors
Cooper Worth
Cooper Worth, Pregame reporter
Cooper Worth is a Pregame Reporter for The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and mass communication. He is also earning a minor in communication studies and an entrepreneurial management certificate. This is his third year at the DI, previously serving as a News Editor and as a News Reporter covering local government in Johnson County for the DI. Cooper interned for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa during the summer of 2023 as a general news reporter.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.