Women’s basketball appears to have received a boost from the stunning upset by Mississippi State over the University of Connecticut on Friday, which knocked UConn out of the NCAA Tournament and snapped the team’s record 111-game winning streak going back to 2014.
The Huskies were going for their fifth consecutive national championship when they stumbled in overtime, losing to the Bulldogs, 66-64, on a buzzer beater by Morgan William. Forget March Madness, this was an achievement that many observers of women’s college basketball considered impossible — especially after the same two teams met almost a year earlier in the NCAA Tournament in a game that UConn won by 60 points.
“The Bulldogs’ stunning overtime victory drew a 1.9 overnight rating on ESPN2, which Sports Media Watch says is the biggest for a women’s Final Four game since Baylor-Stanford in 2012 (2.2),” The Washington Post reports. “That’s up 90 percent from the comparable game from the 2016 women’s Final Four, a game between Syracuse and Washington that garnered a 1.0 on a Sunday night, and 15 percent from the comparable game in 2015, which featured UConn beating Maryland for a 1.6 rating (also on a Sunday night).”
Earlier Friday, the other semifinal game, between South Carolina and Stanford, managed only a 1.0 overnight rating, down 42% from the comparable game in 2016, between UConn and Oregon State (1.7), the report notes.
The Post adds: “Earlier this year, the Huskies’ win over South Carolina — their 100th consecutive victory — garnered a 0.9 overnight rating for ESPN2, which was the highest-rated women’s college basketball regular season game since 2010.”
This year’s tournament, however, ended on a sad note for Mississippi State. After the Bulldogs’ dragon-slaying moment against UConn on Friday, the team lost two days later to South Carolina in the title game as the Gamecocks claimed their first national championship.