DALLAS — When the final shot swished through the net and UConn’s record streak was over, all Geno Auriemma could do was smile.

The Huskies’ 111-game run came to a stunning end when Mississippi State pulled off perhaps the biggest upset in women’s basketball history, winning 66-64 on Morgan William’s overtime buzzer beater in the national semifinals Friday night.

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” Auriemma said. “It’s something I’ve been talking about to the guys all year long. I’ve been talking about it all year. We’re playing way above our years, way above our experience level and tonight it caught up to us when we needed to be more mature with what we’re doing.”

“We didn’t have it. A big part of it was because of what they were doing.”

The Huskies hadn’t lost in 865 days, with that defeat coming to Stanford in overtime on Nov. 17, 2014. Winning had become routine, often by routs. But in an instant, their drive toward a fifth consecutive national championship had been blocked.

When William’s jumper dropped, Auriemma broke into that wry smile. He turned to his bench, then went to congratulate the Bulldogs.

“We had an incredible run, but we came up against a much better team tonight,” Auriemma said.

It took an incredible shot by Mississippi State’s diminutive point guard to end the historic streak.

William hit a 15-footer to cap it, moments after a replay review awarded UConn two free throws for a flagrant 1 foul call that tied the game with 26.6 seconds left.

“I live for moments like this,” William said. “UConn, they’re an incredible team. For me to make that shot against them, it’s unbelievable. I’m still in shock right now. I wanted to take the shot. I wanted to take the shot and I made it.”

The Bulldogs (34-4) will play South Carolina for the national championship Sunday night in a matchup of two SEC teams.

Mississippi State and UConn met in the Sweet 16 last season and the Huskies won by 60 points – the most-lopsided win in regional semifinals history. All season long the Bulldogs had that humiliating loss on their minds.
Now they’ve erased that defeat, beating UConn (36-1) on the grandest stage in one of the sport’s greatest games.

“I don’t have to play them 100 times. Only have to beat them once,” Mississippi State Coach Vic Schaefer said. “That is one heck of a basketball team, the greatest of all-time. But how proud am I of my kids?”

Mississippi State led 64-62 before a replay review gave Katie Lou Samuelson the two free throws that tied the game. After a UConn turnover, William held the ball at the top of the key before dribbling to her right and pulling up for the shot, with the ball in the air when the buzzer sounded.

The Bulldogs ran onto the court, piling up at center court while UConn players stood stone-faced. Schaefer grabbed William in a bear hug, with former Mississippi State star Dak Prescott — the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback — helping lead the cheers.

Prescott said he’d try to come back Sunday for the title game.

UConn rallied from a 16-point deficit, its biggest during its NCAA record streak, to take a 59-56 lead in the fourth quarter. The teams were tied at 60 when the Bulldogs had a chance to win it in regulation, but William’s shot was blocked by Gabby Williams, sending the game into overtime.

“Maybe we’re just not ready for this. Maybe we were ready for everything else, but maybe we’re just not mature enough for this,” Auriemma said. “Maybe all our young kids needed to experience this so that we can come back and really be ready for this.”

Neither team scored much in OT with Teaira McCowan’s layup with 1:12 left in the extra session breaking a 62-62 tie. It was the lone basket for Mississippi State in OT until William’s winner.

During their last two decades of dominance where they’ve won 11 national championships, the Huskies rarely found themselves trailing — let alone by double-digits. This was the first time this season that UConn was losing in the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs got off to a great start, taking it right at the Huskies like not many teams had done during the streak. The Bulldogs led 15-13 before scoring 14 straight points to go up 29-13. 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.

The Huskies rallied to within 29-25 as senior Saniya Chong scored seven points during a 12-0 run. Mississippi State answered and was up 36-28 at the half.

UConn came back in the third quarter behind its trio of All-Americans with Williams, Napheesa Collier and Samuelson keying a 12-3 run to start the second half. That run brought Huskies alums Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Maya Moore, who were sitting 20 rows behind the UConn bench, to their feet.

SOUTH CAROLINA 62, STANFORD 53: South Carolina was able to speed up the tempo after halftime, A’ja Wilson managed a double-double even while almost constantly surrounded by defenders and Dawn Staley finally got a win against Tara VanDerveer.

With all that, the Gamecocks are going to their first national championship after beating Stanford in the women’s national semifinals. The Cardinal led early, but struggled after star Karlie Samuelson sprained her ankle.

“I can’t even put into words the feeling that I have right now. This is a very special team,” said Wilson, who had 13 points and 19 rebounds. “I feel like we’ve earned this spot that we’re in now. We know that we’re not done. But just the feeling of just making history at your school is just something really special.”

Allisha Gray scored 18 points for the Gamecocks (32-4), who lost in the semifinal of their only other Final Four appearance two years ago.

Down 29-20 at halftime, South Carolina went ahead to stay with 13 straight points in the third quarter.

“The second half, I thought we just imposed our will from a defensive standpoint, sped the game up, and got playing at a pace which benefited our style of play,” Staley said.

Stanford (32-6) took a big hit when Samuelson hurt her right ankle with about 41/2 minutes before halftime, after the Cardinal had taken an eight-point lead with a 13-1 run.

“Karlie twisting her ankle really kind of gave us a tough time,” VanDerveer said. “She’s really been the glue to our team all year. She talks, she makes big shots. If someone told before the game she won’t score, I’d say we’re in trouble. … Psychologically and physically, it was a challenge.”

Samuelson was injured when she was making a move toward the basket, and stepped on the foot of South Carolina guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore. Samuelson’s right foot then slid onto the floor before twisting awkwardly. The senior guard grabbed near her ankle with both hands after falling down.

Two teammates came off the bench to carry Samuelson off the floor. She returned for the first 73 seconds after halftime, and got back in several times after that without making much of an impact.

“It hurt really bad when it happened,” said Samuelson, who was scoreless in 25 minutes. “I sprained my ankle and we just didn’t get the win.”

Erica McCall had 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Cardinal, but made only 7 of 19 shots. Alanna Smith had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

South Carolina went ahead 35-33 when Wilson, with defenders around her like most of the night, found Cuevas-Moore open for a 3-pointer that she hit from right in front her teammates on the bench during that big run.

Stanford missed three shots on its next possession, and South Carolina quickly extended the lead on freshman Tyasha Harris’ one-handed bullet pass to Doniyah Cline, who was open under the basket for a layup.

That was the only assist for Harris, who finished with 10 points.

“She was shocked and amazed just like us,” Harris said of Staley. “We just made history and she’d never done it before.”