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Mississippi State, UConn: a game for the ages

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Most were hoping for a close game between Connecticut and Mississippi State. Basketball fans far and wide got so much more than that.

Mississippi State v Connecticut Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Dallas, TX – The basketball gods came to play. So did Mississippi State.

“These kids have tremendous heart and pride,” Head Coach Vic Schaefer said. “We had our pride stepped on last year by another great team. And because of that, we’ve been on a mission.”

It’s not unusual that all anyone asks for when Connecticut takes the floor is that the game is close. Their dominance has taken over women’s basketball in the best way possible, yet many hang on to the underdog story. Can you blame them?

We got way more than a “close game,” to say the least. We got a close game, an intense game, a fun game, an overtime game, a game that was decided at the buzzer and a game everyone who attended or watched will remember for the rest of their lives – no matter whose side they were on.

It was history. And Mississippi State was on the right side of it.

The statement from the American Airlines Center was loud (really loud) and clear: go Mississippi State. If you weren’t a Connecticut fan in Dallas, you were rooting for Mississippi State. It’s a strange dynamic to be cheering against a team who is seeking its 112th straight win and hasn’t lost a game in three years.

Whether or not that’s right or wrong, given the magnitude of what Geno Auriemma and the Huskies have done for the women’s game, the drama behind a potential upset gets people on their feet. The drama of potentially witnessing the most prolific win streak in college basketball come to an end is, well, surreal.

Who wouldn’t welcome that kind of drama from a fan perspective?

The Huskies haven’t trailed by double-digits at all this season, and the Bulldogs led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter. Everyone in Dallas or those tuning in from afar were either a) mind blown b) mind blown or c) mind blown. The most UCONN has trailed by in the year 2016 is four points. Four.

And Mississippi State scored more points than them, believe it or not.

The Bulldogs had UCONN discombobulated in a way no other team has been able to do since the last time they lost, three years ago. And how about Morgan William? An already incredible run throughout this tournament capped off with a buzzer beater over a team seen as untouchable by most.

“At the end of the day, you have to want to be in that moment,” Schaefer said. “And our kids want to be in that moment. That’s what I knew about them. That’s what our staff knew about them. We beat a heck of a basketball team. The best team of all time and the best coach of all time. And I’m very proud of that.”