COLUMBUS, Ohio – Mississippi State University’s women’s basketball team (37-2) returned to the National Championship title game for the second year in a row, but came up short to the University of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish (36-3) with a final score of 61-58.
The Bulldogs started slowly in the first quarter, as Notre Dame scored three times before Victoria Vivians sunk a jumper. MSU gained momentum quickly and ended the quarter three points ahead of the Irish.
MSU again started the second quarter sluggish on offense, but remained aggressive on defense holding Notre Dame to three points in the quarter. Vivians continued to heat up, scoring eight of MSU's 13 points in the quarter.
The Bulldog's defense did not fare as well in the third against the Irish, despite their best efforts to shut down their opposition. By the end of the third quarter, the Bulldogs and Irish were tied 41-41.
Blair Schaefer said the Bulldogs could have played better in the third to avoid the tie.
“We didn’t get two stops when we needed to get a stop, and they obviously executed on offense and got two good buckets, and the game was tied,” Blair Schaefer, a senior guard from Starkville said.
During the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs and Irish kept pace with each other, matching shot for shot. With three seconds left and the game tied, defensive powerhouse Teaira McCowan fouled out. As a result, Notre Dame got the ball and ended the game with a buzzer-beater, dashing MSU’s hopes of bringing a national championship back to Starkville.
“You just got to give Notre Dame credit. They made the 'one more' play,” head coach Vic Schaefer said. “We talked about it pre-game. These games come down to one more.”
This is Vic Schaefer’s second time in his career he has met Notre Dame in the National Championship, and his second time bringing MSU to the National Championship, losing both years. However, Vic Schaefer does not blame anyone but himself.
“It is my job to get them home,” Coach Schaefer said. “I didn’t get them home today, and I will wear that for the rest of my career.”
Senior and WNBA hopeful Victoria Vivians expressed her sorrow over losing the championship and not bringing home the title. However, she showed her gratitude toward her teammates and the program.
“I’m very proud of them. I’m proud of the whole team as well, for them to come up here and do what they did today and last year,” Vivians said. “It’s never been done at State, and I’m so proud of them, and I thank them for being my teammates.”
During the season and postseason, MSU lost two games, making it MSU women's basketball's best season. Regardless of not winning the championship, the women’s basketball team has forged its legacy in MSU history and will forever be revered by students, alumni, faculty and fans all the same.