What. A. Game. And What. A. Shot.
It was a historic winning streak that spanned 111 consecutive games, but the Mississippi State Bulldogs were the team that put Geno Auriemma and his UConn Huskies back in the loss column.
The Bulldogs topped UConn, 66-64 in overtime thanks to Morgan William’s buzzer-beater, leading to complete jubilation and celebration for the team from Starkville.
— NCAA Women's BKB (@ncaawbb) April 1, 2017
It was also sweet revenge for the Bulldogs, who previously lost by 60 (as in 6-0) points last year in the Sweet 16 to the Huskies.
William’s nickname may be “Itty Bitty,” but she has stood tall throughout this tournament, and she stood none taller than in the final minutes of the game vs. UConn. She had 13 points, but it will be those last two that will go in history.
UConn, they’re an incredible team. For me to make that shot against them, it’s unbelievable. I’m still in shock right now. I wanted to take the shot. I wanted to take the shot and I made it.
That is one heck of a basketball team, the greatest of all time. But, how proud am I of my kids?
–Vic Schaefer, Mississippi State head coach
Maybe all our young kids needed to experience this so that we can come back and really be ready for this.
–Geno Auriemma, UConn head coach
Mississippi State put themselves in position to achieve history by racing out to a 29-13 lead, but it is never over until it is entirely over against the Huskies, and they proved this by cutting the deficit to 29-25. The Bulldogs led 36-28 at the half, but the Huskies began the third quarter with a 12-3 run.
Late in the fourth, both teams were tied at 60, and William’s regulation game-winning attempt was blocked by UConn’s Gabby Williams, which sent it into overtime.
William’s overtime buzzer-beater found nothing but net, leading to a celebration from Starkville to the Metroplex.
Joining Mississippi State in the national championship game will be the South Carolina Gamecocks—coached by Dawn Staley, who was recently named the head coach of the United States Basketball Women’s National Team. The Gamecocks came back to defeat the Stanford Cardinal by a final of 62-53, sending South Carolina to its first national title game.
Allisha Gray finished with 18 points and A’ja Wilson concluded her outing with a double-double—13 points along with 19 rebounds. Two players had double-doubles for the Cardinal as Erica McCall tallied 14 points and 14 rebounds while Alanna Smith added 14 points with 12 rebounds.
You think the law of averages should play out at some point.
–Dawn Staley, South Carolina head coach
Stanford held a 21-15 lead in the second quarter, but got a major dash of adversity when Karlie Samuelson suffered an injury to her right ankle.
I think that our team got a little out of rhythm at the end of the first half when Karlie came out.
–Tara VanDerveer, Stanford head coach
Even without Samuelson, the Cardinal maintained an advantage over the Gamecocks, leading South Carolina 29-20 at the half.
Samuelson’s loss loomed large in the second half as the Gamecocks took control of the game for much of its remainder—translating it into a berth in the National Title game.
This sets up an all-SEC National Championship Game between Mississippi State and South Carolina. Game time—6 p.m. Network—ESPN.
It may be April, but it looks like we are setting up for one more day of March Madness on Sunday!