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MSU advances, set to face ND in championship game

Photo by News Mississippi

For the second straight season, The Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs will play for a chance at a National Championship.

Down three with 11 seconds to go, the Mississippi State women didn’t panic, but instead perfectly executed a play out of a timeout, and Roshunda Johnson nailed a game-tying three-pointer.

With the score tied at 59-59, Louisville had a chance to run the floor but two missed attempts at the rim sent this Final Four matchup to overtime. Once the OT period began, it was all MSU. Two straight buckets from Victoria Vivians gave the Bulldogs a 64-59 lead, but the Cardinals did fight back. They were able to cut the lead to 64-63, but a pair of free throws from MSU’s Morgan William and a forced turnover with two more FTs put the game on ice. By the final score of 73-64, MSU gets their chance at redemption in the title game.

It’s not often that MSU played in close games this season, let alone trail late, but head coach Vic Schaefer saw a type of resiliency in his team that you must have, especially in the NCAA Tournament.

“So proud of my team and have been all year,” Schaefer said. “When things get too tough for most people, it’s a time that is just right for us. When you are down three late in a game, you have to have a lot of people do everything just right. In this game, we had a lot of people do things just right tonight.”

The Bulldogs stuck with what has worked for them all tournament long, and they leaned on their dynamic duo of Vivians and Teaira McCowan. Vivians led the team in scoring with 25 points and McCowan once again proved to be an unstoppable force down low. The junior finished with 21 points and 25 rebounds, a Final Four record.

With one half of the title game set, there was still another game to be played in Columbus last night to decide who the Bulldogs will face in the title game, and thanks to the luck of the Irish, they won’t have to play UConn. Notre Dame was able to knock off the undefeated Huskies with a last second game-winner, similar to MSU’s 2017 win over the team that has set the gold standard for women’s basketball.

This sets up a Notre Dame/MSU championship game on Easter Sunday. The Fighting Irish had three losses this season; one to UConn and two to the Bulldogs’ Final Four opponent, Louisville.

Tip-off for Sunday’s title game is set for 5:00 p.m.

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