Roundtable: Thoughts on UConn’s loss to Mississippi State

Katie Lou Samuelson (#33) and Gabby Williams (#15) walk off the court during the loss to Mississippi State on Friday, March 31. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

The UConn women’s basketball team fell in a shocking upset to Mississippi State in the national semifinal Friday, and we have plenty of reactions.

Mariana Dominguez - Campus Correspondent

Ever since UConn women’s basketball’s loss to Mississippi State on Friday night, two things have stayed in my mind. The first was how all year Geno had said the team could lose at any point. He was very realistic and often noted that if even one thing went wrong they could lose. When he first said this, a loss didn’t seem possible, but looking back at Friday’s game, only a few things went wrong to cause a devastating loss. The second thing that has stayed in my mind is how this loss solidifies how extremely difficult it was for last year’s seniors, Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck to win four national championships in a row. Those three players complemented each other and understood each other’s game so well that they were a super team. Now it’s up to next year’s team to try and find the leadership and compatibility to bring the championship back to Storrs. With three All-Americans coming back next season the probability is very high.

Daniela Marulanda - Campus Correspondent

When the fourth quarter of Friday’s game was about to start, I looked at the score and thought to myself, “wow, they could lose. One mistake and that could cost them the game.” Their loss seemed kind of surreal. Geno always said they needed to lose and they would lose. I wonder if he would rather have lost earlier in the season and not now when he says it matters the most. It was easy to see why they lost. Mississippi State out-hustled UConn. There’s this particular instance where the Bulldogs’ offense and the ball was going out and Kia Nurse just watched the ball bounce out and a Mississippi State player ran and got it back into the court. The Bulldogs were simply better. But in a way, this lost said a lot of things. Women’s sports are interesting. The win over Mississippi last year was the game that ignited the discussion if UConn team was bad for the game. A year later, the same team that lost beat UConn, because the Huskies confrontation made them better. It attests to how difficult is to be consistent and dominant in sports.

Stephanie Sheehan - Associate Managing Editor

The moment Morgan William hit that shot, I sank into the couch and just stared at the TV: “Is this an April Fool’s joke?” I chuckled as I saw replays of the shot with the camera panning over to Geno, laughing once his 2016-17 team had finally lost a game. In a way, I was okay with the loss. It was inevitable with a “rebuilding” team, and I feel as though the young team needed it to almost put it all into perspective-- the expectations of the “streak” built two years before them was on their shoulders all season. Like Geno said, their streak was 36 wins in a row-- not 111. Mississippi State had the experience over them, and quite frankly, UConn did not deserve to win that game the way they played. Especially with the flagrant call that tied the game in the final seconds, people would have clamored that it was a copout and a cheap way to win if William never hit her incredible shot. I’m glad UConn lost, if only because they can stop focusing on this streak and start focusing on themselves. That being said, there’s no doubt in my mind that UConn wins at least the next three championships with the talent they have coming back and the talent I expect them to bring in. There’s no need to panic-- as long as Geno is at the helm, the Huskies will stay dominant.

Josh Buser - Staff Writer

Geno Auriemma’s post-game reaction and comments were very classy and he said the right things for the most part. However, there was one quote in a post-game interview with ESPN’s Holly Rowe outside of the locker room that I really couldn’t comprehend. “Maybe we’re just not ready for this. Maybe we were ready for everything else, but maybe we’re just not mature enough yet for this. Maybe all our young kids needed to experience this so that we can come back and really be ready for this.” Geno, this was the national semifinal. You didn’t “need” to lose in this year’s Final Four to be “ready” for next year’s. I’m all for putting a positive spin on things, but this is a huge reach. Auriemma is the greatest coach of all-time, so I won’t hold this against him, let’s just blame this bizarre quote on the trauma of a heartbreaking loss.

Matt Barresi - Staff Writer

Don’t mean to brag, but I believe if you refer to my contribution on the roundtable on when the dynasty might fall, I was “woke” enough to say this Final Four. Still, as I watched it unfold, first by following the play-by-play and watching the ending live, I was still amazed. I thought this team could lose. I truly did. They lost an incredible amount of talent and experience from last year and never had really dealt with adversity. The Tulane game was a good example of this, when the going got tough, they couldn’t escape until the end. But I did not think it would be Mississippi State. I did not think it would be due to an offensive breakdown from their senior leader the previous possession. I certainly didn’t anticipate it would be on the day before April Fool’s day. However I think this loss exposed some holes in UConn’s game. But if Geno is even half the coach I already know he is, then this loss was a quasi-blessing in disguise (I’m sure they’d rather a national championship than a learning experience). This loss will only give the program a new vengeance and I’m confident the streak will be back on next year.

Sophie Ross - Campus Correspondent

I was lying in bed half asleep watching just another UConn women’s basketball game. I thought we were going to win no problem, so I didn’t pay much attention to the first half. My phone started blowing up by the beginning of the fourth quarter when my friends started to freak out that we could actually lose this game. I could hear screams throughout my hall when the game went to overtime. We weren’t playing well all game; we just couldn’t get our groove against Mississippi State. When Morgan Williams hit that shot, I was in shock. About 10 minutes later I got over my disbelief and tried to grasp what just happened. Yes, I was upset that we lost, but I also was okay with the fact that it was Mississippi State and Morgan Williams that were the ones to do it. Williams has burst onto the scene in the NCAA tournament and the fact that it was her that beat us, I was happy for her. Who else could say that they beat the UConn women’s basketball team?

Joe Burns - Campus Correspondent

I think this was coming considering how much Geno was talking about the reality that what goes up must come down. They were in a position where they could lose and end the streak at any moment. The shot was a big one and left me and the rest of UConn nation shocked, but I think it was necessary to energize the program for another four years of tough UConn basketball hungry to do more than has been done before (almost nothing to do at this point!). I am happy that this happened against Mississippi State and not Stanford, or Notre Dame, or another ultimate powerhouse in women’s basketball because it shows that UConn can be beaten if other teams rise above their plateau and fight their best ball for a whole game. People talk badly about how amazing UConn women’s basketball is, but I think that loss just bought another four years of enjoyment out of the fan base and the country as a whole.