Mississippi State guard Morgan William, left, and CT guard Kia Nurse (11) dive for a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the women's Final Four, Friday, March 31, 2017, Friday, March 31, 2017, in Dallas.
Mississippi State center Teaira McCowan (15) celebrates after watching teammate Mississippi State guard Morgan William (2) score the winning basket over CT guard Gabby Williams (15) to win in overtime in an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the women's Final Four in Dallas on Friday, March 31, 2017. They had an incredible run. I'm just enjoying it right now, like everywhere I go, can I get a picture, can I get an autograph? "I think the first time, she was probably [thinking] 'I should have pulled up, ' because she drove right into the biggest kids on the floor". It wasn't reviewed until the Bulldogs already got a shot up and UConn took a timeout on its next possession. But Huskies coach Geno Auriemma said he wasn't surprised by the result. If Geno Auriemma has anything to say about, this game will be the fuel for next season's march to a 12th national championship and another winning streak.
The Bulldogs will play SC for the national championship Sunday night in a matchup of two South Eastern Conference teams. The Gamecocks beat Stanford in the first semifinal.
Now they've erased that loss, beating UConn (36-1) - which had won the past four national championships - on the grandest stage. "But I don't expect them to lose again any time soon".
"These kids have tremendous heart and pride", Head Coach Vic Schaefer said. The final hour of March featured not just the biggest moment in Mississippi State history but one of the legendary tales in the NCAA Women's Tournament. "I am a proud Mississippian". The Bulldogs swarmed William, and then collapsed in a heap on the court as reality began to sink in that they were the first team to beat UConn since November 17, 2014.
While there were quite a few big names in attendance for the game, former Mississippi State quarterback and current Dallas Cowboys signal caller Dak Prescott was front and center.
The Bulldogs led by as many at 16 points in the first half and saw UConn rally to take the lead in the third quarter. "So we're just going to try to enjoy it". They forced the Huskies into a game they weren't comfortable with and never backed down even when UConn cut it close. A layup by Teaira McCowan with 1:12 left put the Bulldogs back up two.
UConn and Mississippi State played one of the greatest college basketball games we've ever seen.
The Bulldogs and Gamecocks will square off for the national championship at 6 p.m. This was the first time this season UConn was behind in the fourth quarter.
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The Bulldogs got off to a great start, taking it right at the Huskies.
The Huskies trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half - their largest deficit of the season - were tied at 48 after three quarters, and tied at 60 at the end of regulation. With a daunting nonconference schedule, the Huskies' winning streak was expected to end before New Year's Day. The Mississippi State Bulldogs are averaging 76.8 points on 45 percent shooting and allowing 57.2 points on 39.2 percent shooting.
Layups by Gabby Williams and Napheesa Collier, and a 3-pointer by Samuelson made it 38-35 Bulldogs with 7:54 left in the frame. That run brought Huskies alums Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart (both players for the WNBA Seattle Storm) and Maya Moore, who were sitting about 20 rows behind the UConn bench, to their feet.
"They haven't become what I hoped they would become - you know, like, edgy", he said.
SC defeated Stanford 62-53 earlier Friday to advance to Sunday's finale. The Cardinal led early, but struggled after star Karlie Samuelson sprained her ankle. She had a huge second half (13 points, six rebounds) to help power the Gamecocks past Stanford on Friday. "Tonight, it caught up to us. But just the feeling of just making history at your school is just something really special".
CT head coach Geno Auriemma reacts to his teams poor start against Mississippi State in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the women's Final Four in Dallas on Friday.
UConn's first lead didn't come until almost three minutes into the third quarter, 39-38, following a 3-pointer by Kia Nurse. "Maybe we were ready for everything else, but maybe we're just not mature enough for this", Auriemma said. She led the team with 21 points and kept the Huskies in it throughout. Samuelson took a hit to her throat. None of that mattered, though, because Morga n William's overtime game-winning jump was a thing of beauty and one that won't soon be forgotten by the sports world.
Samuelson was injured when she was making a move toward the basket, and stepped on the foot of SC guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore.