Mississippi State Does The Unthinkable: and beat UConn
Morgan William’s buzzer-beater in OT snaps UConn’s 111-game winning streak
Mississippi State’s Morgan William drains the game-winner to beat UConn and advance to the Woman’s National Championship game.
The ball floated through the air as the last second ticked off the clock, the record winning streak and a historic championship run hanging in the balance.
As the buzzer sounded and the ball settled in the net, it was over.
The game. The winning streak. The title run. The season.
The team that spent the season finding a way to surprise the world was out of answers. Morgan William’s running jumper as overtime ended made history — Mississippi State handed UConn its first loss since Nov. 17, 2014, ending the 111-game winning streak.
As the Bulldogs celebrated a 66-64 win Friday night, the young Huskies walked off the court with their shoulders slouched. After 36 wins through an improbable run this season, the Huskies were losers.
“I’m proud of our team, I’m proud of our kids,” Geno Auriemma said. “They had an incredible run, but we came up against a much better team tonight.”
The four-time defending national champion Huskies weren’t supposed to be No. 1 in the country for much of the season. After graduating three elite players, UConn returned a young roster. Players would serve new roles while the team attempted to survive with little depth and a short bench.
They managed, navigating a difficult nonconference schedule early in the season. They extended the winning streak and moved through March with confidence.
But they faced a tough and experienced team in the national semifinal. Mississippi State (34-4) led by as many as 16 in the first half and answered every UConn run throughout the second half.
In overtime, Katie Lou Samuelson tied the game with two free throws after officials called a flagrant foul on an earlier play. On the ensuing possession, senior Saniya Chong drove to the basket and threw up an off-balance shot that never quite elevated.
Mississippi State took the ball with 12 seconds left. William, coming off a 41-point performance in a win over Baylor in the regional final, took the ball and drove past Gabby Williams, perhaps the best defensive player in the country.
The basket won the game. Auriemma watched and smiled.
“I know how to appreciate when other people win,” Auriemma said.
Williams had 21 points to lead UConn. Victoria Vivians had 19 to lead Mississippi State.
A year ago, UConn beat Mississippi State by 60 points in the NCAA Tournament. That was a motivator for the Bulldogs.
“We believe in our locker room that it would be done,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said.