It was a feat that was believed to be impossible. But on March 31, the impossible became reality. In the Final Four of the women’s college basketball tournament, the mighty UConn Huskies saw its historic win streak snapped by the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
UConn, winners of 111 consecutive games, came into this year’s women’s tournament as the presumptive favorite to win its fifth straight national title, and the 12th of the Geno Auriemma era. The Huskies were the number one overall seed in the tournament, and cruised to its 10th consecutive Final Four appearance. Even when facing the best of the best in the Final Four, UConn wasn’t expected to face much of a challenge.
The two seed Mississippi State Bulldogs arrived in Dallas for the Final Four on the back of two huge wins. The Bulldogs took out NCAA all-time leading scorer Kelsey Plum and the third seeded Washington Huskies in the Sweet 16 before dispatching number one seed Baylor in overtime in the Elite Eight. Junior guard Morgan William carried the Bulldogs to win over Baylor with 41 points.
On March 31 in Dallas, the Bulldogs put the Huskies on upset alert right from the start, leading 22-13 after the first quarter, and at halftime, Mississippi State led by eight points.
But the Huskies would storm back in the second half, and at long last, UConn took the lead with just under three minutes remaining in the game. The lead swung back and forth between the two teams in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. With the game tied at 60, and under 10 seconds left in the game, William drove down the lane, looking for the game winner. William got a good look at the basket, and put up a layup. But UConn’s Gabby Williams soared in and rejected the shot, sending the game to overtime.
The two teams continued to trade baskets in overtime. But again, with the score tied and time ticking down, the ball found its way into Morgan William’s hands. William drove toward the basket with less than 10 seconds to go, but this time, she pulled up for a mid range jump shot. The smallest player on the court got the shot up over the outstretched arms of the UConn defenders. The ball soared through the air and toward the basket, and as the buzzer sounded, the ball swished through the net. The Mississippi State crowd erupted, while the UConn fans stood in stunned silence. The longest win streak of all time had ended.