Women’s Basketball Championship

Alice Wanamaker, Journalist

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From November of 2014 to April of 2017, UConn women’s basketball played 111 games. They won every single one, including four consecutive national championships.

So when the 2017 NCAA tournament came along, the question on everyone’s mind was not ‘what two teams will be in the championship game?’. One side of the bracket was a foregone conclusion in most people’s minds.

Except-that’s not what happened. Instead, the 2-seed Mississippi State, playing in their first-ever Final Four game, drove UConn into overtime. And then, at the buzzer, 5-foot-5 guard Morgan William hit a jump shot to end UConn’s streak and send Mississippi State into the championship.

UConn bounced back from that defeat. They were undefeated in the regular season (once again), and set a tournament record when they won their first-round game 140-52. This year, the tournament was organized so that UConn and Mississippi State couldn’t meet anywhere except in the championship. Mississippi State was dominant as well-the only game they lost was the SEC tournament final, and they were seeded No. 1 for the first time-and the overwhelming hypothesis was that of a revenge match, a second David vs. Goliath matchup, albeit one that had finished in favor of David the time before.

Then, on Friday night, history repeated itself in the Final Four. Notre Dame-a No. 1 seed, but one that had lost four players to ACL tears this season-matched UConn, sending them into overtime, just as Mississippi State had. They were tied, 89-89, with 1 second remaining in overtime. And just as William had the year before, Arike Ogunbowale made the shot that tore UConn down once again.

Notre Dame and Mississippi State will match up at 6 p.m. April 1st. Notre Dame is the team with a previous championship win (back in 2001), but Mississippi State was on this same stage in 2017. Regardless of the outcome, the absence of that juggernaut for the second year in a row shows something about the remaining field: that instead of ruining the sport, as many women’s basketball detractors claimed it would, UConn basketball pulled the rest of the playing field up to their level, and the NCAA women’s tournament now sits at a new standard.