Dallas, TX – While the rest of the world was still in shock about a national championship game without Connecticut, South Carolina was busy winning it – for the first time ever.
Confetti was blasted. Fists were pumped. Hands were shaken. Tears were shared.
Head Coach Dawn Staley has built South Carolina from the bottom up. It’s been somewhat of a long time coming for the Gamecocks to bring home the hardware, especially after being a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for four straight years. Staley and her squad got exactly what they came for.
With that said, it’s hard not to wonder what it would be like to come off from the high Mississippi State experienced in the semifinal’s, ending the best win-streak in the history of sports. That’s a game that will be talked about forever and a shot that will be replayed over and over and over again.
Even after the Bulldogs mauled Morgan William to the ground after her shot at the buzzer, head coach Vic Schaefer admitted he was the one pouring water on his team. His squad has stayed grounded among the highest of highs. They’ve been underestimated all season and still shattered expectations.
It’s also hard not to wonder if you can truly recover from a high like that in less than 48 hours. Although it’s the best kind of emotion, it’s still emotion overload. Mississippi State had its runs, especially in the second half, but couldn’t quite get over the hump. South Carolina kept the pedal to the medal. A’Ja Wilson was unstoppable. And Cuevas-Moore locked down William.
It’s tough to root against a team who derailed UCONN to get to the National Championship – and the American Airlines Center sounded as if few actually were. But South Carolina earned it. As Geno Auriemma noted in his post-game press conference, the better team won on Friday.
The better team won today, too, when it really counted.
An unbelievable Final Four as a whole, an elusive run for Mississippi State and remarkable finish for Staley and the Gamecocks. Let’s just hope next year and the years to come are just as fun – if not more fun.