DALLAS — The streak is over.
The University of Connecticut’s historic run of 111 consecutive wins ended Friday night with a 66-64 overtime loss to Mississippi State in the national semifinals.
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. The game was tied at 64 before Mississippi State’s Morgan William’s buzzer-beating jump shot game-winner.
William’s shot stunned UConn and set off a raucous celebration at the American Airlines Center. 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 Nov. 17, 2014.
The loss also ends the Huskies’ streak of four consecutive national titles. Mississippi State will play South Carolina — which beat Stanford 62-53 in the first Final Four game Friday — in an all-SEC national championship game Sunday night.
With Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott loudly leading the Mississippi State fan base from three rows behind the Bulldog bench, Mississippi State pulled off perhaps the biggest upset in the history of women’s college basketball.
Mississippi State led for the first 24 minutes of the game, and went up by as many as 16 points in the first half. UConn took its first lead at 40-39 on a putback by Napheesa Collier, midway through the third quarter as momentum turned inside American Airlines Center.
But the Bulldogs would not go away.
This was hardly the type of easy rematch of last year’s Sweet Sixteen game that UConn won by 60 points that many were anticipating.
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Perhaps the only person who knew this game would be this competitive was Huskies coach Geno Auriemma, who spent much of the last week reminding his team that few — if any — of them had anything to do with the 98-38 point drubbing last year.
While UConn had to replace three of the best players in school history, Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson, and turn to a new generation of Huskies, Mississippi State grew more mature. The Bulldogs won a school-record 33 games and arrived in Dallas unintimidated.
Mississippi State was aggressive and physical, challenging the Huskies in a way no team has in years.
Four Bulldogs scored in double figures, led by Victoria Vivien’s 18 points, and the Mississippi State defense limited UConn to just 46 shot attempts (Mississippi State had 67) and forced the Huskies into 16 turnovers, including a steal by Mississippi State center Teaira McCown with 51 seconds remaining in overtime. Bulldog guard Dominique Dillingham was called for a flagrant foul against UConn’s Katie Lou Samuelson away from the play, and Samuelson hit both free throws with 26 seconds.