UConn lost in the Final Four to Notre Dame on Friday night, in an instant classic that featured more lead changes, impossible shots, and sudden twists than any normal fan should be able to handle. The Fighting Irish won with an amazing jumper with a single second on the clock to keep the Huskies out of the Championship Game for the second year in a row.
The way this showdown ended recalled UConn’s last loss, almost exactly a year ago to Mississippi State (who punched their own ticket to Sunday’s final game in the night’s first awesome, overtime game). And when you go back and watch both plays, the resemblance is actually eerie.
Here’s the final shot from their 2017 OT heartbreaker.
This is the shot from Mississippi State's Morgan William that ended UConn's 111-game winning streak. pic.twitter.com/LtNJVzINrJ— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) April 1, 2017
Here’s Arike Ogunbowale’s shot to put Connecticut away late Friday night.
Notre Dame to the title game!!! pic.twitter.com/mJS4NVfaGT— Abdul Memon (@abdulamemon) March 31, 2018
Both shots were from the right wing, executed off of the opponent working UConn’s defense exactly as they wanted to and not getting intimidated in the clutch. On top of both teams not backing down when it counted, both shots came about because UConn let it get that close at all.
These two Final Four games laid UConn’s main weaknesses bare: the lack of set plays they are able to employ in tight games and the uncharacteristic shakiness that can suddenly plague parts of the roster when they are given a real challenge.
Each ending also ended a 36-0 undefeated UConn season, although the 2017 was more focused on the end of their astonishing 111-win streak rather than just the undefeated season. Both shots proved UConn is killable after all, no matter how unstoppable they look early in the tournament.
Notre Dame and Mississippi State slayed the beast, with the both extending UConn’s lack of wins in overtime games. Something they haven’t been able to accomplish since 2004. Both classics, and eerily similar.