DALLAS – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Mississippi State brought Connecticut and its 111-game winning streak crashing down.
Guard Morgan William hit a 10-foot jumper at the buzzer and the Bulldogs grasped a 66-64 victory in the NCAA Tournament semifinals that shocked the college basketball nation on Friday night at the American Airlines Center.
“I got enough space, I jumped up and made the shot,” William said. “I was in shock. I’m still in shock. I’m over here like, ‘Man, I just won the game.'”
The Bulldogs led 64-62 before a flagrant foul call on Mississippi State guard Dominique Dillingham allowed Connecticut’s Katie Lou Samuelson to tie the game at the free-throw line with 26.6 seconds remaining in the extra period.
But the Huskies couldn’t score on the ensuing possession as Mississippi State created a turnover to set up William’s decisive shot.
Guard Victoria Vivians scored 19 points to lead Mississippi State. William finished with 13, forward Breanna Richardson added 12 and forward Teaira McCowan pitched in 10.
Forward Gabby Williams scored 21 to lead the Huskies and Samuelson finished with 15.
Connecticut (36-1), in its 10th straight Final Four, will not get a chance to add to its streak of four consecutive national championships. But Huskies coach Geno Auriemma said he wasn’t surprised by the result.
“We’re playing way above our years and way above our experience level,” Auriemma said. “Tonight, it caught up to us. When we really needed to be a little more mature with what we’re doing, we didn’t have it. A big part of that was because of what they were doing.”
Mississippi State (34-4) advances to play South Carolina in an All-Southeastern Conference title game on Sunday evening back at the American Airlines Center. The Bulldogs finished one game behind South Carolina in the SEC standings.
Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer and the Bulldogs players said they believed they could win the game even before taking a big lead in the first half.
“Obviously, I’m extremely proud of my group,” Shaefer said. “What an unbelievable, gutsy performance that no one in the country probably thought could happen. But we knew it could happen.”
Vivians drove baseline and spun to get an open look that she converted to give Mississippi State a 56-52 lead with 3:57 remaining in the fourth quarter, forcing Auriemma to call timeout.
The Huskies scored seven straight points, but Vivians hit a 3-pointer that gave Mississippi State a 60-59 lead with 1:14 remaining.
UConn’s Napheesa Collier hit a free throw to tie it at 60 with 27 seconds left and Williams blocked William’s last-second attempt to win the game in regulation.
Earlier, Mississippi State had gone ahead by 10 when Richardson hit a jumper 20 seconds into the second half.
But Connecticut closed the gap quickly.
The Huskies went on a 12-1 run and took their first lead of the game when Collier hit a jumper in the lane, putting Connecticut in front 40-39 with 6:14 to go in the third quarter.
“I knew we were in good shape,” Auriemma said. “We knew it was going to be only a matter of five, six minutes before we got it back. But (Mississippi State was) just better.”
A year ago, Mississippi State fell behind the Huskies by 28 points after the first quarter when Connecticut handed the Bulldogs a 60-point loss in the Sweet 16.
Mississippi State flipped the script on Connecticut this time around as the Bulldogs claimed a 16-point lead early in the second quarter.
“We had our pride stepped on last year,” Schaefer said. “Because of that, these three right here (Vivians, Richardson and William at the postgame press conference) and the rest of their teammates, they’ve kind of been on a little bit of a mission.”
Vivians, who led Mississippi State with 12 points in the first half, made a layup to put the Bulldogs ahead 29-13 with 7:36 left until halftime.
But Connecticut fired back at that point.
Guard Saniya Chong sparked the Huskies by scoring seven during a 12-0 run to close the gap. Chong capped the surge with a 3-pointer that cut Mississippi State’s lead to 29-25 with 3:44 left in the second quarter.
Mississippi State still took an eight-point lead to halftime after outrebounding the Huskies 21-11 in the first 20 minutes.
The Bulldogs scored 12 second-chance points in the first half while holding Connecticut to a single offensive rebound in the same period.
NOTES: By making its 18th Final Four appearance, UConn is now one Final Four berth away from tying Tennessee’s record 19 Final Fours. … Huskies coach Geno Auriemma passed former Tennessee coach Pat Summit for the most all-time victories in the NCAA Tournament when UConn defeated Oregon in the Elite Eight. Auriemma now has 113 NCAA Tournament wins. … By defeating Baylor in the Oklahoma City Region final, the Bulldogs upped their program single-season wins record to 33. Mississippi State has set a record for victories in each of the last three seasons
Georgetown 72, Connecticut 69
When: 12:00 PM ET, Saturday, January 14, 2017
Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
WASHINGTON DC – (Wire Service Report by The Sports Xchange) – Georgetown held up the Big East name against an old foe gone astray. Georgetown overcame a 14-point deficit in the second half as L.J. Peak scored 21 points in a 72-69 victory over former Big East Conference powerhouse Connecticut on Saturday afternoon. Jessie Govan had 15 points for the Hoyas (10-8), who used a 7-0 run late to take the lead for good. Rodney Pryor scored 14 points for Georgetown, which has won two straight after losing four in a row.
Jalen Adams scored 22 points for the Huskies (7-10). Connecticut missed three shots, including two potential game-tying 3-pointers in the final 14 seconds.
Connecticut led 33-27 at halftime and seemingly took control early in the second half as Rodney Purvis’ layup put the American Athletic Conference program up 43-29. Fueled by 3-pointers, Georgetown scored 11 straight points during a 19-3 run to lead 48-46 in the 66th all-time meeting between former Big East rivals.
After the lead changed sides three times, Govan’s three-point play put the Hoyas up for good at 61-59 with 4:59 remaining. Peak and Pryor capped the pivotal stretch with layups. Georgetown made 5 of 6 free throws over the final 1:42.
Peak, who had 16 points in the second half, scored Georgetown’s final basket with 44 seconds remaining for a 69-65 after the third offensive rebound of the possession. The Hoyas finished 9-2 in second-chance points and shot 48.3 percent from the field in the second half.
Vance Jackson had 13 points for the Huskies, who had won two straight. Kentan Facey scored 10.
The Hoyas hit 6 of 12 3-pointers in the second half after missing nine of 11 before halftime. The Huskies finished 8 of 23 after hitting 6 of 12 in the first half for a 33-27 halftime lead.
NOTES: Hoyas G Tre Campbell played five minutes after missing three consecutive games due to illness. … Connecticut remains on the road for Thursday’s conference game at SMU. The teams split two games last season. … Georgetown concludes its four-game homestand Monday against Providence. The Friars won the first meeting in the home-and-home series 76-70 on Jan. 4.
Where: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
CHESTNUT HILL – (Wire Service Report) – Boston College kept its bowl hopes alive with a 30-0 rout of Connecticut in the first meeting between the regional rivals since 2004 on Saturday at Alumni Stadium in Massachusetts. The BC Eagles (5-6) can become bowl eligible for the third time in four seasons under coach Steve Addazio, a Farmington, Conn., native, with a win at Wake Forest next Saturday.Addazio, 22-27 at Boston College, would become the first Eagles’ coach since Tom O’Brien to achieve bowl eligibility in three of their first four seasons.
Patrick Towles threw for 183 yards (14 of 19) and a touchdown and Jeff Smith totaled 121 yards (87 rushing, 34 receiving) for BC. Don Williams managed 127 passing yards (13 of 29) and had three passes intercepted as the Huskies lost their fifth straight game.
UConn (3-8) has never beaten BC and trails 0-11-2 in the all-time series.
The Eagles led 10-0 at halftime after the teams totaled 69 yards and five punts in a scoreless first quarter. Davon Jones’ touchdown run put the Eagles ahead 7-0 with 10:36 to play in the second, and Mike Knoll hit a 35-yard field goal with 1:36 before the break.
Towles hit Michael Walker for a 10-yard pass to make it 17-0 with 8:25 on the clock in the third. Knoll added two more field goals in the second half, a 24-yarder with 2:55 left in the third and a 39-yarder with 7:40 to go in the fourth. Matt Milano returned a Williams’ interception 19 yards for a score with 14:41 remaining.
Boston College retired the jersey of former star quarterback Matt Ryan, now with the Atlanta Falcons, at halftime and the school honored 17 seniors before kickoff on Senior Day.