Staley coached the University of SC to its first women’s basketball national title Sunday with a 67-55 win against Mississippi State.
SC coach Dawn Staley cuts down the net as she and the team celebrate their win over Mississippi State in the final of NCAA women’s Final Four college basketball tournament, Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Dallas. Then in the SEC Tournament championship game on March 5, the Gamecocks overcame a five-point deficit in the fourth quarter and won 59-49.
The All-SEC championship game brought commissioner Greg Sankey to Dallas, a day after he was in Phoenix for the South Carolina-Gonzaga men’s game.
SC reached the Final Four in both men’s and women’s basketball, marking just the 13th time in NCAA history and the third time in SEC record books that a program has accomplished that feat.
“I’ve got options now”. The title was also the first for coach Dawn Staley, who played on national runner-up Virginia in 1991 (Tennessee). “Happy our words came true to them”.
The Gamecocks reached the championship game after defeating Stanford 6253 on Friday night. After getting off to a quick 7-1 lead, the Bulldogs offense stagnated.
SC was paced by SEC Player of the Year, A’ja Wilson, who finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
“I just knew I needed to make an impact on the game”, Wilson said.
“Of course it just makes it ten times harder”.
Williams-Goss missed a shot with 12.7 seconds left and SC rebounded and called a timeout trailing 75-72. The first basket came courtesy of Wilson’s shot from close range, and junior guard Kaela Davis beat the third-quarter buzzer with a midrange jumper that swished through as time expired. The Gamecocks used a big second quarter run to take a double digit lead, and then the Bulldogs made a run in the third quarter to put the game in the balance.
Vivians finished the game with 12 points for the Bulldogs.
Earlier, South Carolina claimed its largest lead of the first half following six straight points on field goals by three players, the last of which was Harris’s driving layup.
Schaefer said that he thought his team lacked energy and that was one reason why William was not on the court in the final quarter until there was 43 seconds left and MSU emptied its bench to send-off seniors. Jazzmun Holmes, a sophomore, played the balance of the minutes at the point, and had 6 points in 17 minutes.
What’s being called the greatest upset in the history of women’s college basketball delivered impressive TV ratings and was, according to ESPN, the most-streamed Women’s Final Four game ever, based on total viewers. SC will play Mississippi State on Sunday in the NCAA Championship game. It was Connecticut’s first loss since November 17, 2014.
ESPN.com women’s basketball writer Mechelle Voepel says Vivians was the recruit head coach Vic Schaefer pursued the hardest when he took over the program in 2012.
Playing to a near full-house of approximately 19,000 with plenty of maroon and garnet inside AAC, the SEC has a good representation of its fan base, which is always the case, regardless of what sport it is, especially when a national championship is on the line. We’ve been trying to nearly play catch-up since then.