Palmer: Memorable Morgan and her shot that knocked UConn from the top

Morgan William celebrates a win for the Mississippi State University Bulldogs against the Louisville Cardinals during the Final Four in 2018.

With under five seconds left in overtime in a game against the University of Connecticut in the semi-finals for the 2017 Final Four, Bulldog guard Morgan William drove in right past the free-throw line to toss up the shot that sealed the deal for the Bulldogs women's basketball team in 2017. Right after she released the ball, the buzzer went off just as the ball sank into the basket; the Bulldogs had defeated the Huskies and their 111-game winning streak.

Although the Bulldogs did not end up winning the national title that year, one thing was for certain: Morgan William had made her mark on the court that night with her buzzer-beater.

She was a junior at the time, majoring in sports studies at Mississippi State University, where she later graduated in December of 2017, with a degree in that field. Looking back to her time before becoming a Bulldog, William had a strong basketball foundation of awards and honors before joining the team in Starkville, Mississippi.

Morgan William is the daughter of Michael William and Monica Rory, as well as the stepdaughter of Donnie Rory. In her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, William became known for her athletic abilities at her high school, Shades Valley High School.

After her sophomore season of high school, the young athlete took the title of Birmingham-Metro Player of the Year. Another high school basketball accomplishment of William is that she was chosen to participate in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game. It was at this game that she met some of her future Bulldog teammates, Victoria Vivians and Blair Schaefer, according to her bio on MSU's website.

Vivians also showed out in that memorable game against the University of Connecticut, where she scored 19 points throughout the match. Vic Schaefer, the Bulldogs' Head Coach at the time, spoke highly of his entire team, William and Vivians included, after the game that night.

"Obviously, I'm extremely proud of my group," Schaefer said on March 31, 2017, after his team defeated the previously No. 1 UConn. "What an unbelievable, gutsy performance that no one in the country, including all of y'all, probably thought could happen, and that's okay. But we knew it could happen."

Besides her incredible night at on the court against UConn, William also showed out in other ways and made her mark on the team with some outstanding Bulldog career highs. During her time at MSU, William was named first in career assists, totaling 656, and first in career free-throw percentage with nearly 85%.

Following her record-breaking career as a Bulldog, the guard went un-drafted in the WNBA in 2018. Seeming unfazed by this, the athlete attended a training camp for the Las Vegas Aces in May of that year.

Players like Morgan William show the leadership abilities of young athletes. When considering which athlete to feature for Black History Month, she came to mind fairly quickly. She showcased the power and drive that was so evident that night against UConn in most games that she stepped out on the court to play.

Although many good things were said about the player throughout her time at Mississippi State University, a quote about the player from her Head Coach Vic Schaefer that was shared in an article by Sam Gordon in the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2018, when she was attending the Aces' training camp, sums up the qualities of the young athlete.

"She exudes toughness, fearlessness, competitive spirit," her coach said. "She's as physical as they come … She'll do whatever it takes at any moment."

As that quote applies to various moments throughout her basketball career, it is so evidently shown in her shot that night against the Huskies, where she stepped through her opponents to score that unforgettable shot in 2017.

The night of that big game, William showed character and vulnerability by playing for her stepfather, who had passed away three years and one day prior to the day of the UConn game. She said she prays before every game and talks to her stepfather about it too, according to an article in The Undefeated.

The player dubbed the name "Itty Bitty" for her 5'5" stance, as listed in her bio, ended up making a huge impact on her team.

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