South Carolina wins first ever NCAA women's basketball championship

Michelle Smith has covered pro and college sports for AOL Fanhouse, the San Francisco Chronicle and espnW.

But William lacked energy, and her size was an issue against South Carolina's bigger guards, Kaela Davis (6-2), Allisha Gray (6-0). She kissed it. She carried it over to the minority of Gamecocks fans at the American Airlines Center and hoisted it with one hand, saluting them with the other.

Wilson scored 23 points, and SC won 67-55 over Mississippi State on Sunday in the national championship game.

Wilson finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

As South Carolina coach Dawn Staley emptied her bench with 41.4 seconds left in her 21st season in college basketball, fans behind the Gamecocks' goal unfurled a very big white flag with the program's logo. "It's a tough thing at times".

It's where Hall of Famer Dawn Staley came to coach in 2008, ultimately building a largely homegrown program fashioned after her toughness, integrity and heart. Even after the horn sounded, she hesitated for a moment before joining her teammates in the celebration.

The Bulldogs ran onto the court, piling up at center court while UConn players stood stone-faced. UConn signed the top incoming high school player in the country, high-scoring 6-foot-1-inch guard Megan Walker and the Huskies have two top transfers, both post players, including 6-foot-6-inch Azura Stevens who played two seasons at Duke and whose transfer prompted criticism of UConn head coach Geno Auriemma.

"I can understand why LeBron went back home and got himself a ring", she said. She knows how much work she's put into this.

She played for it three times at Virginia.

The victory in front of a sellout crowd came one day after the Gamecocks men's basketball team lost in the Final Four in Glendale, Arizona. Peck, who won a title at Purdue in 1999, gave Staley a piece of her net a few years ago when she was a commentator.

"She's been close so many times, and I'm sure that burns her up inside", Wilson said. I don't know what the time was on the clock.

SC - led by head coach Dawn Staley - became just the second team guided by an African-American coach to the title.

Carolina fell behind by six early in the first quarter before taking a 10-point lead into halftime.

All the key players who went 36-0 this season before losing Friday night, will be back next season. "I can't be mad, she was doing what was best for the team". She had 18 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. At the end of the quarter she was on 11 points, good enough for second on the team.

Gray scored seven points during the surge as she consistently drove into the lane. "It took that long", Staley said. I don't know how to act. It's redemption for three Final Four losses in her playing days, and this year's title wasn't an easy ride.

"I'm greedy. I'm greedy for success", Staley said. She didn't play down the stretch as Schaefer went with Holmes. "Those were the things I held near and dear to me when I was growing up because that's what I saw, that's what I was shooting for, and when I couldn't get it done in college, I thought that was it, because I never wanted to be sitting where I'm sitting".

"I am so excited for them". Thank you so much, we appreciate you! If you stick with us and if you're disciplined, if you believe all these players believed in that. But Staley realizes the extra burden on Wilson.

It's fantastic what Staley has done in her career. But we're going to recruit the kids who want to be here. There are family and friends, coworkers, and coaches, all here wanting to share with her in this moment. "It's not like when she's out there, no one can talk to here". We've beaten two No. 1's to get here. She has taken a once-dormant program and turned it into a school ready to raise its first national championship banner. But the 5-5 guard was the focal point of a tall and lengthy SC defense, which was able to keep her in check. Her dad told her at the start of the season that he was going to book the flight to Dallas. "It's a great feeling to do this for her". "I'm glad that we were able to cut down the nets".

  • Julie Sanders