MSU blown out by top-ranked UConn

Mississippi State's Morgan William tries to drive past Connecticut's Natalie Butler as Saniya Chong (12) defends during the second half. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Mississippi State’s Morgan William tries to drive past Connecticut’s Natalie Butler as Saniya Chong (12) defends during the second half. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Mississippi State saw it best season ever in women’s basketball play come to a conclusion with a loss in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Round at the Bridgeport Region.

No. 14/15 MSU fell down early and could not recover, falling 98-38 to top-ranked and three-time defending national champion Connecticut.

The Bulldogs, however, still have a great 2015-16 run to be proud of. State concluded the fourth season under Vic Schaefer with a school-record 28 victories and a final overall record of 28-8. MSU advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in program history and first time since 2010.

The Bulldogs won 20 games in three-straight seasons for the first time.

Featuring a roster in which 10 of the 14 players had one year or less of college experience, Mississippi State also advanced to its second SEC Tournament championship game while earning his first NCAA Tournament hosting opportunity.

After a night full of upsets Friday, UConn was determined to not become a third regional No. 1 seed to go out in this round.

“(UConn was) really good today,” Schaefer said. “I am disappointed in how we played. It is my job to have the team ready and I will take full responsibility for the fact that we weren’t. I am proud of my team. We just didn’t show the country today how good we are.

“Take your hat off to Connecticut. They are well-coached. Defensively, they should get a lot more credit for how good they are. We got some good looks early. If you don’t make the shots, you get dejected. Then it can get away from you.

“I love my girls to death. We wouldn’t trade them for anyone. We will be back.”

UConn scored the game’s first 13 points and later led 32-4 after one quarter. From there, the Bulldogs had an uphill battle. Down 61-12 at halftime, the Maroon and White manage did manage to outscore the Huskies 18-14 in the fourth quarter.

MSU had its best-ever regular season finish in the Southeastern Conference standings with a tie for second place. The Bulldogs earned a three-seed and played in the conference tournament championship game for the second time in program history. During the season, MSU also beat Elite Eight participant Tennessee twice for the first time in program history.

Success there meant a No. 5 seed in this regional. The Bulldogs were able to beat Chattanooga and No. 16 Michigan State in the first two-ever home games played in an NCAA Tournament at Humphrey Coliseum.

For the contest, MSU hit 18 of 63 shots from the field (28.6 percent), 0 of 14 shots from 3-point range (0.0 percent) and 2 of 7 shots from the foul line (28.6 percent). UConn hit 37 of 59 shots from the field (62.7 percent), 6 of 14 shots from 3-point range (42.9 percent) and 18 of 24 shots from the foul line (75.0 percent).

UConn held a 44-29 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 10 assists and 18 turnovers, while the Huskies had 26 assists and 10 turnovers.

Teaira McCowan was the lone MSU player in double figures as she finished with 10 points. The lone senior on the squad Sherise Williams also scored a basket late.

Breanna Richardson and sophomore First Team All-SEC selection Victoria Vivians added six points each.

UConn received 22 points and 14 rebounds from Breanna Stewart. Katie Lou Samuelson added 21 points, while Morgan Tuck had 19 points.

(From MSU Media Relations)

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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