Staley says she would go to White House if invited
William, of course, is the Bulldog of the moment - the 5-foot-5-inch player nicknamed "Itty Bitty", sank the winning jump shot at the buzzer against UConn.
Mississippi State started strong with seven of the first eight points of the game, but like the other two meetings, SC pushed back.
The Bulldogs couldn't muster the same effort against their SEC rival.
Carolyn Peck, the coach of Purdue's 1999 national championship team, "gave me a piece of her national championship net", Staley said in the giddy aftermath of South Carolina's first NCAA basketball title, men's or women's.
The latter path was the one the University of SC women's basketball program took to its first-ever national championship - a 67-55 win over Bulldogs (34-5), who previously fell to the Gamecocks (33-4) in the Southeastern Conference championship game a month ago.
Or, have Mississippi State do it. In the national semifinals, the Bulldogs battled through overtime against the No. 1 team in the country. It was the biggest deficit UConn had faced during its historic streak and one of the largest during the last 22 years, which the Huskies have dominated with 11 national championships.
But William lacked energy, and her size was an issue against South Carolina's bigger guards, Kaela Davis (6-2), Allisha Gray (6-0).
The Bulldogs will home the tournament's best moment, but SC will take home the trophy. Staley emptied her bench with less than a minute left and Wilson left with tears of joy.
SC is halfway to its first NCAA women's championship in a matchup of first-time finalists with Mississippi State.
South Carolina's defense, meanwhile, frustrated a Mississippi State offense that had been so prolific at times in this tournament, with three 90-point performances in March. "Again, y'all, it's a long, hard grind of a year, of a season". "We were exhausted, but that's no excuse", William said. And with stars like Ohio State's guard Kelsey Mitchell and Tennessee wing Diamond DeShields choosing to return to school rather than leaving early for the WNBA draft, the path to a national title next April in Columbus doesn't figure to get any easier. "For some reason, it feels like an SEC championship, I guess, because we played Mississippi State". She will coach the US women's basketball coach at 2020 Olympics.
"I can understand why LeBron went back home and got himself a ring", she said.
The Bulldogs would get as close as four, but a Davis' jumper would close the period with SC ahead 52-44.
Gray scored seven points during the surge as she consistently drove into the lane. Later, Wilson danced on the court. Under Staley and with Wilson on the floor, SC has risen to be among the nation's elite. Auburn in 1989. SC and Mississippi State were each making their first appearance in the national championship game. She's everything you could look for in a coach and a friend. She was Auriemma's assistant in the 2016 Olympics, and she won three gold medals as a player. The great thing about me being there is, she made me a part of it. The absence of an NCAA championship, she said, "has been a void in my career".
Wilson said she could not stop thinking about her late grandmother, Hattie Rakes, after she knew the Gamecocks had clinched the national title.
Davis, who was 2 of 15 in a semifinal win over Stanford, missed eight of her first 10 against the Bulldogs before the late shot in the third.
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Vic Schaefer's Bulldogs reflected on what went wrong against the Gamecocks and plenty of optimism moving forward with the program. She lost in the Final Four three times as a player, including 1991 when she was named the Most Outstanding Player in defeat.
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Apr 03 2017