We don’t typically send shout outs to Title IX sports.  In fact not long ago we used a women’s basketball team as Exhibit A in our call for the complete privatization of all institutions of “higher learning” in South Carolina.

And our guess is if you search for “women’s basketball” throughout this website, you’ll probably find some less-than-flattering, even off-color commentary.

Having said that, the women’s basketball team at the University of South Carolina deserves props this week.

On Wednesday evening, head coach Dawn Staley’s 17th-ranked Lady Gamecocks (10-1) nearly pulled off an improbable upset of the nation’s No. 1 team – the Stanford Lady Cardinal.  USC actually led Stanford by a bucket with 2:33 to play, but the top-ranked Cardinal (10-0) was able to squeak out a 53-49 victory.  Still, head coach Tara Vanderveer’s team was held 25 points below its season average and gave up a season-high 18 turnovers.

That’s the bad news.  The good news?  Not only did USC give the best team in the country all it could handle, but more than 8,000 people showed up to watch the game.

“I thought coming into this game, we would be able to hold our own because we understood what it would come down to, and we just fell short,” Staley said. “I think it’s tremendous for our program to play in games like this, and I hope that the 8,000 people that came out tonight will come back and see us, because I think we put a good product on the floor.”

Indeed …

We’re not going to soften our stance on higher ed privatization (nor are we going to stop scrutinizing USC athletics), but in this case let’s give credit where credit is due.  And while there may be no such thing as a moral victory in athletics, the effort turned in by Staley’s squad against Stanford this week comes pretty damn close.