Behind The Scoreboard

Lady ’Dogs slay the giant

The streak is over for UConn’s dynasty.

Mississippi State pulled off the biggest upset in the history of NCAA women’s college basketball, and one of the biggest in sports – period.

The Lady Bulldogs ended the University of Con­necticut’s record of 111- straight victories Friday by beating the nation’s top team 66-64 in overtime in the national semi-finals.

UConn’s Lady Huskies trailed by as many 16 points in the first half – their largest deficit of the season. After three quarters, the game was deadlocked at 48. Later, the game was knotted again at 60 at end of regulation.

Mississippi State had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Morgan William’s shot was blocked by Gabby Williams, sending the game into overtime. The last and final tie was at 64 before William’s buzzer-beating jump shot capped the win.

William’s shot stunned UConn and everyone else throughout the sporting world. Winning had become routine for UConn and often by routs.

 But the reality was that Mississippi State is the first team to defeat UConn since Nov. 17, 2014, (the Lady Huskies lost to Stanford in overtime).

Mississippi State and UConn met in the Sweet 16 last season and the Lady Huskies won by 60 points (98-38), the most lopsided win in regional semifinal history.

All season the Lady Bulldogs had that humiliating loss on their minds. And now, the Lady Bulldogs have erased that defeat, beating UConn on the grandest stage in one of the sport’s greatest games. Also, UConn’s drive toward a fifth consecutive national championship was blocked by Mississippi State as well. And this is the first time since 2012 the Lady Huskies did not win the national championship.

Mississippi State’s upset win comes in the program’s first Final Four appearance. The Lady Bulldogs advanced to Sunday’s national championship game against South Carolina, an All-SEC final.

Coach Dawn Staley and the Lady Gamecocks won their first national championship with a 67-55 victory over Mississippi State Sunday night.

Mississippi State had all the momentum on its side after a thrilling win over UConn Friday night, but couldn’t pull off the same effort against South Caro­lina.

William, who had become the face of the tournament with the game-winner against UConn and after a 41-point performance against Baylor, was held to just eight points.

The Lady Gamecocks turned a 10-point halftime lead (36-26) into a 45-31 advantage midway through the third quarter before Mississippi State rallied. The Lady Bulldogs cut their deficit to 54-50. But that was as close as the Lady Bulldogs could get.

The Lady Gamecocks won the title without star center Alaina Coates, who injured her ankle in the SEC tourney.

This was the sixth time in NCAA Tournament history that teams from the same conference played for the national championship, including three by the SEC. Tennessee won both of those matchups, the last coming in 1996 when the Lady Vols beat Georgia.

Holly Springs South Reporter

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