Published: Tue, April 04, 2017
Sports | By Phillip Butler

SC claims first National Championship in women's basketball

DALLAS (AP) - NCAA women's basketball champion Dawn Staley says she would accept an invitation to the White House if offered.

As is often the case with SC, a big factor in Sunday's game is how well A'ja Wilson plays. "She said, 'When you win your national championship, just return it, '" Staley said.

SC head coach Dawn Staley signals toher players during the first half against Mississippi State in the final of NCAA women's Final Four college basketball tournament, Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Dallas.

As has become customary after one of the state's schools nets national championship win, a University of SC flag is flying over the Statehouse dome, beneath the United States and SC flags.

The loss for Mississippi State came two days after ending UConn's record 111-game winning streak with a stunning buzzer-beater by Morgan William in overtime in the semifinals.

SC has weathered an early surge from crowd favorite Mississippi State to take an 18-14 lead after one quarter of the NCAA women's championship game Sunday night.

This will be the first time since 2012 that women's Division I college basketball crowns a champion not named UConn.

Forward A'ja Wilson powered the Gamecocks on both offense and defense as she finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.

But as the Bulldogs showed Friday, they are a talented, driven group that has every reason to believe the sports adage that it's hard to beat a team three times. We knew we needed to get past them.

Morgan William darts like a waterbug on the court, but SC guards have a lot of speed as well, particularly the Gamecock's itty bitty, 5-foot-6-inch point guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore. She scored 41 points in Mississippi State's win over number one seed Baylor in the Elite Eight.

But Wilson and Gray made the key baskets SC needed in the fourth quarter to keep the Gamecocks in the lead.

There were several pivotal moments in South Carolina's ascension, none bigger than the decision to hire Staley from Temple nine years ago. She didn't even travel with the team to Dallas.

UConn went on to win the next four national championships.

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