UConn Women's Basketball is a destroyer of worlds. A consumer of souls. Its Cthulhu, Shang Tsung and everything that goes "bump" in the night turned into a team. On Saturday afternoon it was Mississippi State's turn to enter Bridgeport with dreams and leave with less than nightmares -- nothingness. When the final buzzer echoed the score was 98-38.
The big criticism of women's college basketball is a lack of parity. UConn has been an unstoppable force for the last 15 years, but teams like Mississippi State represent the twist, the desire to seek a new normal. They are supposed to be part of a vanguard tasked with storming UConn's castle, and make no mistake, this was a very good team. Mississippi State went 28-7 in the regular season, earned a No. 5 seed, were ranked in the Top 20 for much of the year and made it to the Sweet 16. UConn observed the expanse of its kingdom and the forces at the gates and did nothing more than push over some ladders and pour some hot oil off the parapets -- it's all they needed to do.
This season Mississippi State allowed an average of 55 points. By halftime they'd given up 61. Three different UConn players had more points at the half than the entire Mississippi State team. We've seen teams dominate their respective sports before, but nothing like what UConn has done this season. My biggest sports regret is that I didn't watch them play sooner.
With seconds left on the clock in the first half UConn picked off the ball. A player dribbled out the clock, disinterested in shooting a last-second three. During this passage one of her teammates was nearby -- barking at her to shoot, pointing toward the rim. A 49-point lead wasn't enough. It was time for even more blood to be shed and left on UConn's altar.
There's a duality of beauty and brutality to how the Huskies play. On offense the team epitomizes every lesson coaches try to instill in a team: Ball movement, unselfishness, finding the open player and taking high percentage shots. It's like reading a textbook on basketball and seeing it play out on the screen.
On the other end the team morphs entirely. Players swarm the ball carrier like bees, if those bees had dragon wings, bear heads on them and octopus tentacles that seem to extend to every corner of the court. The team swallows everything.
There's no shame in losing if you at least got to play your game, but Mississippi State didn't get to play its game. In fact, the team didn't even get to play basketball. Every pass seemed to be picked off, shots blocked and when one got a glimpse of the rim they were boxed out so hard that UConn watched as the ball surrendered and jumped in their arms.
The final stats were staggering.
- UConn out-rebounded Mississippi State 34-15.
- UConn shot 62.7 percent to Mississippi State's 28.6.
- Nine blocks.
- 12 steals.
- Two players scored 20+ points.
- Every single UConn player scored but one, compared to seven scoreless players for Mississippi State.
I'm left gobsmacked, stunned, reeling. Every word I've written doesn't do honor to just how good UConn is. This wasn't a great team beating a bad one, it was a good team being torn apart and strewn on the rocks of Mount Olympus by a god-made-flesh and split into 12 basketball entities. It's all so unfair.
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