Aleighsa Welch made a mistake and she was going to try her best to make up for it. That’s how she ended up crumpled on the floor with a sprained neck.
She should be OK. That’s the wonderful news.
The opposite is how deprived USC looked without Welch. The Gamecocks are deep and talented, but having Welch on the floor directing, diving, doing the little things that need to be done on every possession is what got USC to this point.
Welch has been so unselfish since she arrived, the very talented freshman taking a backseat to the five seniors who had built Dawn Staley’s program to giving up easy baskets for herself so Tiffany Mitchell could get them last year. Mitchell wound up SEC Player of the Year, although Welch received a few votes.
How’d she get hurt? She threw a bad pass that was picked off and being run up the floor. She chased it full-speed, went for the block, missed and landed on a foot, causing her to tumble into the floor, her neck meeting the padded basket support.
It’s no coincidence that Auburn near-immediately turned a 20-point deficit into eight. USC found its game and handily won, but it showed just how needed the senior forward is.
“Aleighsa’s our leader,” guard Olivia Gaines said. “It forces someone else to be our vocal leader and for everybody to step up.”