clear
Thursday November 23rd, 2017 1:12PM

South Carolina wins 1st national title, beats Miss St 67-55

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

DALLAS (AP) — Dawn Staley is going to savor her first NCAA championship. It took her a long time to finally be able to raise the trophy over her head.

A'ja Wilson scored 23 points to help coach Staley and South Carolina win their first national championship with a 67-55 victory over Mississippi State on Sunday night.

Staley made the Final Four three times as a player at Virginia but never won. She also led the Gamecocks to the national semifinals two years ago before losing to Notre Dame.

"It means that I can check off one of the things that had been a void in my career," said Staley wearing the championship net around her neck in the postgame press conference. "Something I wanted to do. It was one of two opportunities that I saw women play when I was younger — national championship games and Olympics. Those were things that I held dear and near to me growing up. Those were the things I saw and were shooting for."

Wilson, a native South Carolina player who was Staley's biggest recruit ever, was the key. She was thrilled to help Staley get her first title.

"I can't put into words how much it meant to win the game for coach," Wilson said. "She's put in so much time and sweat into this. ... It really means something special to bring this back home for such a great person like coach Staley."

Once the final buzzer sounded, Staley had a long group hug with her coaching staff and then grabbed the trophy and paraded it around the court high over her head. She cut down the final piece of the net, waving it to the huge throng of Gamecocks fans while Wilson and Kaela Davis danced with the South Carolina band playing.

"You have to give tribute to the former players," Staley said. "Go back to my Temple days, they believed in our vision. We took that vision to South Carolina and that vision was we'll be national champions. If you stick with us and if you're disciplined, if you believe all these players believed in that. Happy our words came true to them."

Staley became just the second African-American coach to win a national championship. She joined Carolyn Peck, who won a title at Purdue.

Mississippi State had all the momentum on its side after a shocking win over UConn on Friday night that ended the Huskies' record 111-game winning streak. The Bulldogs couldn't muster the same effort against the Gamecocks. Morgan William, who had become the face of the tournament with the game-winner against the Huskies after a 41-point performance against Baylor, was held to just 8 points.

South Carolina (33-4) turned a 10-point halftime lead into a 45-31 advantage midway through the third quarter before the Bulldogs rallied. Mississippi State (34-5) slowly cut into its deficit, getting with 54-50 on Jazzmun Holmes' jumper. That brought a huge cheer from the thousands of Mississippi State fans who made the 8-hour trip from Starkville, Mississippi.

But that's as close as the Bulldogs could get.

The victory in front of a sellout crowd came one day after the Gamecocks men's basketball team lost in the Final Four in Phoenix.

Wilson, who grew up in South Carolina, blocked a shot on one end of the court and then hit a short jumper in the lane that started a 12-2 run to put the game away. Staley emptied her bench with less than a minute left and Wilson left with tears of joy. The junior center sees a repeat in the future for the Gamecocks, who return most of their core players.

"Man, just be with us next year, we're trying to be in this same spot next year, we're going to see how it goes," Wilson said after winning the most outstanding player award for the Final Four.

The Gamecocks won the title without star center Alaina Coates, who hurt her ankle in the SEC Tournament. She didn't even travel with the team to Dallas.

"Our players never fretted, 'La' we got you a ring. We got you a ring," Staley said of Coates. "Allisha Gray, Kaela Davis they all believed in it. They spent a year getting to know our team, getting to know our system. Got the opportunity to play and we become national champions. It's incredible belief and discipline and can't thank them enough for choosing South Carolina."

It was the third loss for the Bulldogs against the Gamecocks this season. Mississippi State dropped a game in South Carolina in the regular season as well as the SEC Tournament title game.

"Today doesn't define us," said Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer, who is 0-9 in his career against South Carolina. "It certainly doesn't define this team or this season. We had a heck of a year. Obviously we've had some hard times dealing with them. Today was no different."

No team had a tougher road to the championship then the second-seeded Bulldogs. They were trying to become the third team in NCAA history to beat three number No. 1 seeds en route to the title. Tennessee did it in 1987 and Louisiana Tech accomplished the same feat a year later. The Bulldogs had already knocked off top-seed Baylor and UConn to get to the championship game.

This was the sixth time in NCAA Tournament history that teams from the same conference played for the national championship, including three by the SEC. Tennessee won both of those matchups, the last coming in 1996 when the Lady Vols beat Georgia.

___

Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, College Sports, AP Sports - Men's College Basketball, AP Sports - Women's College Basketball
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Activists project message on St. Peter's dome
Rome police say Greenpeace activists briefly projected the message "Planet Earth First" on the dome of St. Peter's Basilica on the eve of the pope's meeting with President Trump
3:42AM ( 23 minutes ago )
Forsythe, Dodgers win it in 13th after Kershaw duels Lynn
Logan Forsythe doubled in a run in the 13th inning to lift the Los Angeles Dodgers over the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 after a stellar duel between starters Clayton Kershaw and Lance Lynn
3:38AM ( 27 minutes ago )
Military presence stepped up as Britain faces raised threat
Britons will find armed troops at vital locations after the official threat level was raised to its highest point following a suicide bombing that killed 22
3:32AM ( 33 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
LEADING OFF: Sale tries for 9th double-digit K game in row
LEADING OFF: Sale tries for 9th double-digit K game in row
2:53AM ( 1 hour ago )
Pick 6: Gary, Evans, Sweat are defenders set to rise in '17
Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary, Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat or Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans could be college football's breakout defensive players this season
2:52AM ( 1 hour ago )
Hoffman's goal helps Senators beat Penguins to force Game 7
Mike Hoffman scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period to give the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins and force a decisive Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals
1:14AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
Landslide on California highway part of $1 billion in damage
A massive landslide that went into the Pacific Ocean is the latest natural disaster to hit a California community that relies heavily on an iconic coastal highway and tourism to survive, and it adds to a record $1 billion in highway damage.
10:25PM ( 5 hours ago )
Hundreds honor Montana sheriff deputy killed in line of duty
A Montana sheriff's deputy who was killed in the line of duty last week was remembered as family man, a man of faith and a dedicated public servant who could be tough when he needed to be but still played dolls with his daughter
10:08PM ( 5 hours ago )
Experts: Traveler should have drawn scrutiny before flight
Experts say a man acted strangely long before trying to get to the front of a plane heading to Hawaii, but a lack of communication and an airline's hesitancy to be caught on video booting a passenger could have played a role in allowing him to fly
8:11PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online Basketball
The Latest: Pope Francis meets first lady Melania Trump
Pope Francis meets with first lady Melania Trump, other members of US delegation
3:12AM ( 53 minutes ago )
Priest among 14 hostages taken in siege of Philippines city
A Philippine Roman Catholic church leader says a priest and several churchgoers have been taken hostage from a cathedral by gunmen in a southern city
3:11AM ( 54 minutes ago )
Alaska aquiver: State hosts plate tectonics research effort
The federal agency that supports basic science research is taking a close look at what's under the ground in Alaska
3:06AM ( 59 minutes ago )
AP National News
Tensions in their past, Trump, Pope Francis to meet
Concluding his tour of the ancestral homes of the world's three largest monotheistic religions, President Donald Trump is poised to call on Pope Francis, the famously humble pontiff with whom he has publicly clashed
12:03AM ( 4 hours ago )
Hannity backs off story about murdered DNC staffer
Fox News' Sean Hannity says he'll stop talking about a conspiracy theory involving a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer and leaks of DNC emails
11:26PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Some of Trump's GOP allies slam budget plan
President Donald Trump's $4.1 trillion budget plan is drawing rebukes, even from some Republican allies, for its politically unrealistic cuts to the social safety net and a broad swath of other domestic programs
10:56PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online National News
11 people seated on Cosby jury; defense sees race bias
Bill Cosby's lawyers accused Pennsylvania prosecutors of trying to "systematically" keep blacks off the jury Tuesday after prosecutors used their strikes to keep two black women off the panel
7:47PM ( 8 hours ago )
Mom who went to classes with quadriplegic son gets MBA
A woman who went to classes with her quadriplegic son and took his notes as he earned a Master of Business Administration received a surprise at his graduation: Her own honorary degree
6:15PM ( 9 hours ago )
Fox removes report from website about murdered DNC staffer
Fox says it has removed a story from its website where an investigator speculated about a murdered Democratic National Committee member's ties to leaks
6:08PM ( 9 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Neighbor charged in Ohio fire that killed 5 kids, 2 adults
Investigators in Ohio have charged a neighbor with setting a house fire that killed two adults and five children last week
5:51PM ( 10 hours ago )
NASCAR shakes up schedule for 2018 and adds road course
NASCAR has announced several changes to its 2018 schedule, including new tracks in the final 11 races of the season
4:34PM ( 11 hours ago )
Ford's new CEO promises a fit _ but fun _ company
Ford's new CEO promises a fit _ but fun _ company with a clear direction for the future
4:29PM ( 11 hours ago )
College Sports
The Latest: 3 white men, 2 white woman seated for Cosby jury
Three white men and two white women have been seated for the jury that will hear Bill Cosby's sex assault case
5:08PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: 2 white men, white woman selected for Cosby jury
Two white men and one white woman have been picked for the jury that will hear Bill Cosby's sex assault case
3:51PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Many in Cosby jury pool have opinion about guilt
One-third of the potential jurors questioned in Bill Cosby's sex assault case say they've formed opinions about his guilt or innocence while two-thirds say it would be difficult to serve
12:15PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Sports - Men's College Basketball
2 white men, white woman are 1st picks for Bill Cosby jury
Two white men and one white woman have been the first jurors selected in Bill Cosby's sex assault trial
4:33PM ( 1 day ago )
Longtime Stanford top assistant coach Amy Tucker retiring
Longtime Stanford associate head coach Amy Tucker is retiring from coaching but will remain with the program in an administrative role
2:20AM ( 1 month ago )
Correction: WNBA Draft-South Carolina story
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley says Kaela Davis and Allisha Gray have decided to enter the WNBA draft
12:39PM ( 1 month ago )
AP Sports - Women's College Basketball
The Latest: Activists project message on St. Peter's dome
Rome police say Greenpeace activists briefly projected the message "Planet Earth First" on the dome of St. Peter's Basilica on the eve of the pope's meeting with President Trump
3:42AM ( 23 minutes ago )
Forsythe, Dodgers win it in 13th after Kershaw duels Lynn
Logan Forsythe doubled in a run in the 13th inning to lift the Los Angeles Dodgers over the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 after a stellar duel between starters Clayton Kershaw and Lance Lynn
3:38AM ( 28 minutes ago )
Military presence stepped up as Britain faces raised threat
Britons will find armed troops at vital locations after the official threat level was raised to its highest point following a suicide bombing that killed 22
3:32AM ( 34 minutes ago )
Moody's cuts China credit rating over rising debt
Credit rating agency Moody's has cut its credit rating for China due to the country's surging debt, prompting a protest by Beijing and highlighting its challenges in overhauling a slowing economy
3:29AM ( 36 minutes ago )
The Latest: Pope Francis, President Trump exchange gifts
Pope Francis, President Trump exchange gifts after meeting
3:27AM ( 38 minutes ago )