South Carolina wins first national title, beats Miss St 67-55

When Morgan Williams hit her buzzer-beating jumper to give the Lady Bulldogs a 66-64 overtime win, it brought cheers and an end to UConn's preposterous 111-game winning streak.

SC guard Kaela Davis (3) shoots over Mississippi State forward Victoria Vivians (35) during the first half in the final of NCAA women's Final Four college basketball tournament, Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Dallas.

By knocking off four-time defending national champion Connecticut, Mississippi State probably caused ESPN to scrap a lot of prepared footage in prelude to the Huskies playing in the national championship game on Sunday.

Mississippi State brought CT and its 111-game winning streak crashing down.

The Bulldogs (34-4) advanced to play SC (32-4) in an all-Southeastern Conference national championship game on Sunday evening at American Airlines Center.

For the first time ever, women's basketball is stepping to the forefront in Mississippi's College Town.

"Like I said we fought back in that second half, which I'm really proud of our team for doing, bearing down and playing like we have all season but it just didn't end the way we wanted it", said Katie Lou Samuelson.

Her program is 40 minutes away from claiming its first title, but standing in South Carolina's way is an unexpected but familiar foe, conference rival Mississippi State. "I didn't think I'd ever see the day they were not part of the national championship", Wilson said of the Huskies, who have won the last four national titles and six of the past eight.

"That's the piece that you've got to deal with, for us, is dealing with that spacing".

PJ Dozier led the Gamecocks with 17 points and Thornwell, the leading scorer in the NCAA Tournament at 25.8 points per game, finished with 15 on 4-for-12 shooting after starting slow.

For two whole minutes, neither team scored since the start of the fourth quarter till Mississippi St made the first bucket. "We just went out there and didn't perform", William said.

"She knew the game plan was to make it hard for Morgan to operate in areas in which she could control their team". You know, after the game was over, people were just so excited about what had just happened. The Gamecocks held on for a 64-61 victory in Columbia to snap MSU's 20-game winning streak during the regular season and also claimed a 59-49 win in the SEC Championship game in Greenville by outscoring State 19-4 in the fourth quarter.

"We feel like we won it all when we won that game last night, but we know we didn't", William said.

Yours truly, Tribune Sports Editor Johnny Thornton, was there to witness and experience a magical moment of what has made "March Madness" something that gets all the attention it certainly deserves. "They should have shown their age early on in the season, November, December, at some point".

Mississippi State Coach Vic Schaefer is 0-8 against SC in five seasons, but both games this season were tossups. "I think it's our family atmosphere and how personable we are with our fans". The Bulldogs had already knocked off top-seed Baylor and UConn to get to the championship game.

"Man, just be with us next year, we're trying to be in this same spot next year, we're going to see how it goes", Wilson said after winning the most outstanding player award for the Final Four.

MSU looked drained for most of the night in Dallas and its tournament star Morgan William saw her light fading after giving everything she had to get the Bulldogs to that point.

Staley became just the second African-American coach to win a national championship. They will play SC in an all-SEC final. "I knew this was coming at some point". This time, they felt the pain of losing a big game on a last-second shot. Breanna Richardson and Victoria Vivians had 12 points each for Mississippi State. When we really needed to be a little more mature with what we're doing, we didn't have it.

"He [Schaefer] said, "You about to win the game". The Bulldogs finished one game behind SC in the SEC standings. He pointed out that Holmes scored 14 points against DePaul in the second round of the tournament, but she came into the national title game averaging 2.6 points. "They know now the prize is in front of them; it's attainable".

Mississippi State's best was not good enough for a national championship. Today they deserved to win, they beat us. The play sparked Carolina for the rest of the period, and a jumper inside from Wilson followed by Davis' field goal from the right elbow as time expired handed the Gamecocks a 52-44 lead as the teams entered the final break.

  • Julie Sanders