USC Women's Basketball

Columbia preparing parade to honor USC women’s basketball team

The party won’t stop Sunday night.

The celebration of the South Carolina women’s basketball team winning the NCAA Tournament championship will carry on when the Gamecocks return home. Columbia mayor Steven Benjamin said Sunday night that planning is underway for a championship parade.

“I’m leaning toward Thursday or Friday,” Benjamin said, adding he would like to include the Gamecock men’s team in the recognition. “It’s been a magical ride,” Benjamin said of the women’s title and the men’s first trip to the NCAA Final Four.

The event likely would mirror the 2010 festivities for USC’s first baseball national championship, Benjamin said, with the party culminating with a State House rally.

“We’ve started (planning),” Benjamin said to “We were trying not to jinx things, but I will leave it to Dr. (Harris) Pastides and Coach (Ray) Tanner (USC’s athletics director). They want to talk to the coaches. We want to honor the women as champions, but we want to honor the men, too. They’ve worked hard and brought us to brand new heights. It’s going to be big, and we’re going to do it right.”

Benjamin was in Arizona, where the USC men played in the Final Four on Saturday night. The Gamecocks were ousted by Gonzaga, which will play North Carolina for the men’s championship on Monday night.

The day, time and final details for the parade are still being finalized.

“Columbia’s excited,” Benjamin said, according to “We’re ready for the parade. We’re going to celebrate like it’s 1999 and have some fun!”

A’ja Wilson scored 23 points to help coach Dawn Staley and South Carolina win their first national championship with a 67-55 victory over Mississippi State on Sunday night.

“It is going to be big and we are going to do it right,” Benjamin said to