HBO's 'UConn: March to Madness' series tackles heartbreaking loss in finale

Mississippi State's Morgan William hits a game-winning shot as time expires in overtime to lift the Bulldogs to a 66-64 win over UConn on Friday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The win ended the Huskies' record 111-game winning streak. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

This was not how the series was supposed to end for HBO nor how the season was supposed to end for the Huskies. In the sixth and final episode of HBO's "UConn: The March to Madness," the No. 1 Huskies traveled to Dallas for their 10th straight Final Four, where they would fall in overtime to No. 2 Mississippi State Bulldogs 66-64.

The first half of the episode revolved around UConn’s journey to Dallas and the obligations that come with going to the Final Four, while the second half focused on the semifinal game and what lies ahead for UConn.

During their journey to Dallas, head coach Geno Auriemma tried to hammer home the point that the Final Four is “a life of its own,” meaning that this time of year is a whole new monster to contend with. Coming into the Final Four, no starting five has been playing better than the Huskies, assistant coach Chris Dailey noted, confident in the team’s ability to take home their fifth straight National Championship.

Before the game, Auriemma is shown knocking down a half-court shot, which blew up on social media after it happened, and receiving the honor of being named the AP Coach of the Year. Along with Auriemma being honored, food once again makes its weekly appearance, when the Huskies go to a private dinner where they are surprised when Auriemma gets a call from Kobe Bryant and his daughter, who is a giant UConn fan.

In the second half of the episode, the semifinal match-up against Mississippi State is shown, with each quarter being highlighted and momentum swing detailed. UConn went down early against the Bulldogs, trailing by 16—not only their largest deficit of the season, but also their largest in 10 years.

At halftime, the team trailed 36-28 but had some momentum on their side headed into the third quarter. The halftime speech by Auriemma was not aired due to the wishes of the team, and what he said will be lost to the annals of history.

The rest of the game and overtime were shown, with UConn falling at the buzzer. The postgame reaction and locker room was hard to watch. Seeing the somber tone of the locker room coupled with the crying of team, evoked several emotions from me. It was a tear-jerker to say the least.

I understand why they showed the locker room, but at the same time it was hard to see the heartbreak, the frustration and the tears from every player directly after the stunning loss. Following the game and during the tears, Auriemma spoke to the team and tried his best to put his feelings into words saying, “sometimes you just have to feel it,” and that this loss will stay with them for a long time. The players got a dose of real life, Auriemma said. They will feel the loss, but they will move on.

Four days after the loss, Auriemma was back in his office getting ready to work. The grind is not over for him and the next season for the Huskies will be an opportunity for the program’s 12th national championship. The series was able to encapsulate a magical season, where Huskies went 36-1, in which they lost in the semifinals but were able to prove many wrong by completing a perfect regular season and extending their win streak to 111 games in a row.


Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at matthew.kren@uconn.edu.