COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Gamecocks received a heroes welcome from their fans Monday afternoon as they returned home after winning the team's second national championship.
The team plane touched down just before 2 p.m. at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport. Two fire trucks gave the team a water salute as the plane taxied to a stop.
After filing off the jet, the team made their way to their home court, the Colonial Life Arena, where a victory celebration was held outside the main entrance. Thousands of fans showed up to cheer the team.
"We couldn't wait to get back home and celebrate with you," USC Head Coach Dawn Staley told the crowd, which roared with approval.
Staley told the crowd that their support has helped so much over the years.
"Every national champion in every sport has a common thing: You create a home court advantage and on the road that is unmatched."
She then called on newly hired men's basketball coach Lamont Paris to come out, and urged fans to show that team the same support they give the women's squad. "Give him a chance, wrap your arms around him," she said, and also gave him a hug.
Oh, and both she and the team agree: they plan to be back in the exact same place a year from now, hoisting another trophy.
USC Interim President Harris Pastides and Athletics Director Ray Tanner also spoke briefly during the ceremony. Pastides confirmed there will be a national championship parade later this week, but did not provide further details.
USC defeated UConn 64-49 Sunday night in Minneapolis to secure the national title. It's the second championship in program history, to go along with the one they earned in 2017.
South Carolina Gamecocks star Aliyah Boston was named Final Four Most Outstanding Player.