Mississippi State Ends UConn's 111-Game Winning Streak

Apr 1, 2017
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We want to turn now to a shocker in college basketball. We're talking about what happened last night in the women's tournament. Mississippi State women's basketball team pulled off an amazing upset that ended the historic 111-game winning streak by the University of Connecticut. You heard that right. The Huskies had not lost in nearly two and a half years. How did they do it? Point guard Morgan Williams hit the winning shot in overtime just seconds before the final buzzer, taking the Bulldogs to the NCAA title game. They will face the South Carolina Gamecocks tomorrow in the finals.

But here to tell us all about this historic moment is USA Today sports reporter Lindsay Jones. She's been covering the women's NCAA championship in Dallas. Lindsay Jones, thanks so much for joining us.

LINDSAY JONES: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: So just give us a sense of - I don't know - what's the word we're looking for - how big of a giant was UConn heading into this game?

JONES: UConn was as big a favorite in this tournament as there's really ever been a favorite in any tournament. I mean, they've won four consecutive national championships, 111 games. The last time they lost in the NCAA tournament was 2012. But at the same time, there were some vulnerabilities here. This was a different UConn Huskies team coming into this tournament after they graduated their three best players last year. So I think head coach Geno Auriemma, like, he could see this sort of thing happening.

MARTIN: So describe what the arena was like the minute that Morgan Williams made that shot.

JONES: It was absolute pandemonium. There were dog piles. They were hugging and crying, and the players were running around the court, and they were out there for 15-20 minutes. You know, after the game was over, people were just so excited about what had just happened.

MARTIN: So what are both teams saying today? I mean, you kind of alluded to this earlier. You mentioned UConn coach Geno Auriemma had suggested that this was in his mind that this was a possibility. But just briefly, if you would, tell us what both teams are saying today.

JONES: Yeah. So this is - it's a very interesting final that's setting up now between Mississippi State and South Carolina because these are two SCC teams. They're very, very familiar with each other. And Mississippi State, they're still the underdog going into this final game on Sunday night because they've lost the last 10 times that they've played against South Carolina. South Carolina won the last two this year, including in the SCC tournaments a couple weeks ago. That was the game where Mississippi State was winning during that game. South Carolina rallied. So they certainly are the underdog going into this game. That enables them to kind of keep that chip on their shoulder, the everybody's against us mentality that they had going into UConn that served them so well.

MARTIN: Going into this game, did you have it in your head that this possibility might occur? I mean, did you really think that you'd be writing that story - Mississippi State beats UConn?

JONES: Not really. I mean, I think when you looked at the four teams that were here and you thought, OK, which of these teams could potentially have the best chance to knock off UConn, Mississippi State looked like they were the best matchup. They had the best scoring offense in terms of a team that could potentially keep up with UConn and this type of style of defense that they play, said, OK, well, maybe this is a team that could hang with UConn. They could be competitive. But I think if you polled every reporter here who is covering this tournament if they thought that Mississippi State was actually going to win, I think they all would say no way. But it became very apparent quickly into that game last night that Mississippi State was for real. This was not a fluke. They were taking it to Connecticut. And you realized pretty quickly that this is something that could actually happen.

MARTIN: That's Lindsay Jones. She's a reporter for USA Today. She's been covering the NCAA women's tournament in Dallas, and yeah, we know, the men's semifinal is tonight. Lindsay Jones, thanks so much for speaking with us.

JONES: Great. Thanks so much for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.