A season that started for Connecticut dodging a bullet at Florida State concluded by taking one to the heart against Mississippi State.
This is why sports are powerful and a reminder of why the games are played.
The most unexpected team ended the game’s most improbable winning streak in a breathtakingly stunning way.
Before Morgan William, the one they call Itty Bitty, there was Debbie Brock, and she was even smaller than William when she helped Delta State win three straight national championships in 1975, ’76 and ’77.
Brock, who was all of 4 feet, 11 inches tall when she dribbled and passed the Lady Statesmen to national prominence, watched on TV Mississippi State’s historic, 66-64 overtime victory over UConn late Friday night.
“Oh, it was great, just so great,” Brock said by telephone from her home just outside Jackson. “I woke up this morning and had to ask myself, ‘Did that really happen? Did State really win that game? Did I dream that?”
Mississippi State’s Final Four defeat of Connecticut so blitzed the senses that the impressions were still sorting themselves out a day later. Whatever comes next, the record book is stamped, and so are the eyes of everyone who saw tiny Morgan William rise up and drop that soft-handed jumper through the net at the buzzer in overtime to end the longest winning streak in basketball history. How could any national championship game top that? It’s almost with reluctance that you turn away from the replays and look forward and say that there is one more to play against South Carolina.
“It felt like we won it all when we won that game,” William said, “but we know we didn’t.”
A week ago, Morgan William was just a college kid who played basketball for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, unknown in most of the country. Never mind that her listed 5-foot-5 height is more aspirational than real (her coach, Vic Schaefer, flagged this from the podium earlier this week in Dallas, urging that she be re-measured).
The point guard teammates call “Itty Bitty” has turned herself into a folk hero.
“When we started Oct. 15 to where we are today … these kids were way older than they were supposed to be,” Auriemma said. “They should have shown their age early on in the season, November, December, at some point. We just kept playing like older, older players, more mature players.”
They will be next season.
First-team All-Americans Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier will be juniors. Gabby Williams, who made the second team, and Kia Nurse, who made a record 22 3-point shots during the NCAA Tournament, will be seniors.
Crystal Dangerfield, who shared point guard duties with Chong, will be a sophomore.
An openly gay assistant women’s basketball coach at the University of South Carolina says homophobia is one reason the number of female coaches in women’s college sports is declining.
A New York Times A1 story on women college coaches focused in part on Dawn Staley, the South Carolina head coach who has the Gamecocks in the Final Four against Stanford tonight.
And there’s this: HRC Highlights LGBTQ Visibility in NCAA Women’s Basketball
Every March millions of eyes fall on 64 men’s and women’s college basketball teams as sports fans from across the country revel in the “madness” of the NCAA basketball tournaments.
The NCAA has committed itself to equality and inclusion throughout the event selection process, moving 2016-17 championship and tournament games out of North Carolina due to the discriminatory HB2.
In honor of Women’s History Month, HRC highlights five courageous women who are using their voices to bring LGBTQ visibility to college basketball. As fans enjoy March Madness, it is important to keep in mind these players and coaches and their brave decisions to live openly and authentically.
And if you haven’t read “Strong Women, Deep Closets,” you should.