After all the winning, the Huskies coach could appreciate a thrilling victory - even from the other side.
Just like the 1980 US men's Olympic hockey that upset the heavily favored Soviet Union team on way to the gold medal, Mississippi State (34-4) still has one more game to play after ending UConn's 111-game winning streak. "The fact that it never happened, that doesn't mean I went home thinking it's never going to happen".
UConn came back on a 3-pointer by Samuelson. "I think for us personally, we had to get back to UConn basketball".
Four-time defending champions CT, in their 10th straight women's final four, hadn't lost a game since November 17, 2014. Winning had become routine, often by routs.
The Huskies had won an NCAA-record 111 consecutive games heading into Friday's game, and were heavy favorites to win a fifth consecutive national championship. "Of course, it's going to go in".
"We fought extremely hard to get where we are". "I understand losing, believe it or not". "But I promise you it'll be a lot better tomorrow when we win".
William hit a 15-footer to cap it, moments after a replay review awarded UConn two free throws for a flagrant 1 foul call that tied the game with 26.6 seconds left.
"I'm a little disappointed, but I think it kind of had to happen at some point", said Jennifer Casparino, a freshman from Newington. The Uconn women's basketball team lost a game. "I'm still in shock. Daughter-father, just had that bond, it was like I want the ball in my hands", she said. "I got in the space, I jumped up, I made the shot".
In Mississippi State's loss at SC on January 23, William and Vivians really struggled offensively, making just 6-of-27 shots from the field.
Not when there's one more game to win, not when there's a national championship on the line against SEC rival SC.
Mississippi State played this game with the voracity and pure focus that only a team still feeling the sting of being beaten by 60 in last year's Sweet 16 could. All season long the Bulldogs had that humiliating loss on their minds.
"Our kids know what's coming down the pike", Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said.
The Bulldogs ran onto the court, piling up at center court while UConn players stood stone-faced.
Prescott, a record-setting National Football League rookie quarterback who last season helped lead the Dallas Cowboys to the NFC East title, sat near the Mississippi State bench, emphatically cheering on his Bulldogs. If Geno Auriemma has anything to say about, this game will be the fuel for next season's march to a 12th national championship and another winning streak.
UConn rallied from a 16-point deficit, its biggest during its NCAA record streak, to take a 59-56 lead in the fourth quarter.
When Mississippi State had the last possession of regulation and a chance to win, Williams blocked Morgan William's shot to sent the game into overtime.
"They deserved to win today", Auriemma said. "We just kept playing like older, older players, more mature players". "Maybe all our young kids needed to experience this so that we can come back and really be ready for this". UConn led 32-4 after the first quarter en route to a 60-point victory.
"We all know that there are probably things that we would like to change throughout that game, but that second half, I am really proud of the way our team fought".
Vivians had 19 points, William had 13, Richardson had 12 and McCowan finished with 10 for the Bulldogs (34-4).
STORRS, Conn. (AP) - UConn will return to campus from the Final Four on Sunday for the first time in five years without a national championship trophy.
First-team All-Americans Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier will be juniors.
"It was personal. We had to prove we're a much better team than past year", said Victoria Vivians, who led the Bulldogs with 19 points.
STREAK BUSTER: The loss ended a 28-game NCAA Tournament winning streak for UConn.
While most hoped the loss would come during the regular season, the Final Four hosts the country's hottest teams.
QUARTERBACK CONNECTION: Prescott wasn't the only QB in attendance on Friday night. Gabby Williams, who made the second team, and Kia Nurse will be seniors. Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was supporting his sister Anna, who is a freshman at Stanford in the first game.
In the postgame locker room, legendary ESPN broadcaster and current Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, a MS native, stopped by to give a passionate motivational speech to the Bulldogs.
So who's the most popular Bulldog at the moment? Roberts brought out a Bulldogs jersey on her morning show. However, Mississippi State's Morgan Williams hit a buzzer-beater in overtime to give the Bulldogs the 66-64 win.