"You know, people didn't believe in us".
In the days leading up to the rematch with Mississippi State, Geno Auriemma reminded his players to ignore the past. 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. "They just, they did an excellent job", Williams said.
"On the right night, the right team could get them", Wilson said. He wanted them to focus on the team that marched all the way to its first Final Four by knocking off perennial contender Baylor, not the one that couldn't get out of its own way in a 60-point drubbing at the hands of UConn just 12 months earlier. I'm still in shock right now. I got in the space, I jumped up, I made the shot.
Mississippi State brought CT and its 111-game winning streak crashing down.
But, she added, ending UConn's winning streak will mean nothing if the Bulldogs don't finish the job and win a national title on Sunday night against SEC foe SC.
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. All season long, the Bulldogs had that humiliating loss on their minds.
Now they've erased that defeat, beating UConn (36-1) - which had won the last four national championships - on the grandest stage.
I like the South Carolina Gamecocks to get the victory here and to be crowned champs for the first time.
Mississippi State did the impossible, what no other team has been able to do since November 17, 2014: Beat UConn.
"Obviously, I'm extremely proud of my group", Shaefer said.
William seized her opportunity, snaking her way inside the three-point line and launching a rainbow shot over Williams that went down just as the final buzzer sounded.
While there were quite a few big names in attendance for the game, former Mississippi State quarterback and current Dallas Cowboys signal caller Dak Prescott was front and center.
Prescott said he would try to come back Sunday for the title game. "All we had to do was beat them one time". "So we just have so much confidence in her".
The Bulldogs (33-5) took a 64-62 lead in overtime when McCowan scored on a layup with 1:12 remaining. The game was insane fun to watch with Mississippi State taking the lead into half-time but as usual UConn came storming back in the third quarter.
During their last two decades of dominance where they've won 11 national championships, the Huskies rarely found themselves trailing - let alone by double-digits. The game was tied at 50-50 and 52-52 in the fourth quarter before the Bulldogs led 56-52 on baskets by Chinwe Okorie and Vivians. The Bulldogs led 15-13 before scoring 14 straight points to go up 29-13. The rest of the team looked exhausted and the Huskies' thin bench eventually caught up to them. Instead senior Saniya Chong drove to the hoop looking to score to her left. So did Mississippi State. That run brought Huskies alums Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Maya Moore, who were sitting 20 rows behind the UConn bench, to their feet.
Auriemma, making his 10th straight appearance in the Final Four, said earlier in the day that this year's team lacked killer instinct, KERA's Gus Contreras reported. They take on SC (32-4) in a rematch of the SEC Tournament championship game - this time for the national title.
While most hoped the loss would come during the regular season, the Final Four hosts the country's hottest teams.