Geno Auriemma and the Connecticut Huskies aren’t accustomed to losing college basketball games. In fact, the UConn women’s basketball team entered Saturday night’s Final Four contest against the Mississippi State Bulldogs sporting the longest winning streak in the history of the sport. The Huskies had won a mind-blowing 111 consecutive games before encountering Morgan William and company in the National Semifinal, but not even UConn could zoom beyond Mississippi State on this night.
William, who scored a career-high 41 points in sending Baylor home in the Elite 8, led the way along with Victoria Vivians for the Bulldogs in a 66-64 overtime victory over UConn. In fact, it was William that dealt the closing blow as the final buzzer sounded.
While Mississippi State’s performance was tremendous, the more transcendent story from a national perspective was the loss for the overwhelming favorites. Auriemma’s team displays All-American talent at virtually every position, and UConn has earned 11 national titles as a program, including the last four consecutive championships prior to 2017.
For the sake of comparison, the longest winning streak in major men’s college basketball history came in the early 1970’s when the UCLA Bruins won “just” 88 games in a row. This is, crazily, the second time that UConn shattered that streak, with a 90-win run from 2008 through 2010 and, for a brief moment, it looked as if the Huskies would be able to keep the streak alive on Friday evening in Dallas.
The Huskies trailed by eight points at the half, and to put things in perspective, UConn remained a 4-to-1 favorite at the break in certain off-shore betting markets. On cue, the favorites charged back to tie the game after three quarters and even took what appeared to be a commanding late lead in the closing period. In the end, though, Mississippi State put together a late charge that included the overtime period, and the underdogs were able to escape with a victory as the final horn sounded.
Congratulations to the UConn women’s basketball team for an incredible run, and in the same breath, congratulations to Mississippi State for pulling off a feat that other squads were unable to do on 111 consecutive occasions prior to this one.